Movie review: Documentary "The Hunting Ground" tackles topic of rape on campus

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

There are two dangers in making a documentary about a topic as important as the one in “The Hunting Ground.” The first is mishandling it altogether, which the movie does not do.

The second is trying to cover all the parts in an issue so complicated it could easily warrant a mini-series, and “Hunting Ground” does a pretty good job there as well. The film isn’t perfect, but it’s essential viewing to be sure.

The filmmakers behind the Oscar-nominated “The Invisible War” turn their sights on another front: sexual assaults on college campuses — specifically how colleges systematically mishandle and downplay them.

An opening montage of prospective students reading their college admission emails segues into sobering first-person accounts of sexual assaults. These are followed by the infuriating hurdles victims face in reporting crimes — and the astonishingly lax punishment of their attackers.

It’s a complicated issue that boils down to this: Colleges are money-making entities, and they have a vested interest in underreporting sexual crimes on campus.

Like any good documentary of this kind, “The Hunting Ground” will fill you with outrage — and please don’t let the recent news about Rolling Stone’s University of Virginia story convince you that false rape reports are a common occurrence.

The limitations of screentime mean some tangential (but important) topics are addressed only briefly. Still, this is an amazing starting point for a conversation that needs to be had at colleges nationwide.

Radius/TWC photo

"The Hunting Ground"

Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

3 stars out of 4