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New documentary about rape on US campuses gets standing ovation at Sundance screening

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A documentary which exposes the extent of sexual abuse in American universities and details alleged attempts by the authorities to cover it up received a standing ovation at Sundance Film Festival this weekend.

The Hunting Ground - directed by Oscar-nominated Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering - suggests the problem is enormous and claims there is a tendency for universities to cover it up, or blame the victim in order to 'protect their brand.' 

See the powerful trailer for the film below. 

Telling the story of two University of North Carolina students Andrea Pino and Annie Clark -who joined forces after becoming victims of campus rape  - the film shows how they and others went from sexual assault victims, to survivors, to activists in an attempt to speak out about what has been called a national problem. 

Kirby and Ziering interviewed well over 100 rape victims whose experiences were remarkably similar to Pino and Clark's across America. 

Women they spoke to said they were asked not to report their rape to police or to pursue the matter, their credibility was questioned and they were often asked if they 'invited the assault,' by, for instance, wearing a short skirt. In many cases, no action was taken by the university.

The Hunting Ground movie poster

Speaking at the festival after the film screening, Girls creator Lena Dunham said the film shows that sexual assault is an epidemic on campus. "Women on college campuses are some of the most privileged women with the loudest platforms to tell their stories," she said. "Most of them are middle class and white. And they still can't be heard as survivors of sexual assault. So think about what that means. That is indicative of the fact that sexual assault is an epidemic and so many people are voiceless."

"I think campuses are a great place to start because that is where we are being educated and where we are told we are going to be safe," she added. 

The Hunting Ground is released in US cinemas on March 20th and will be screened on CNN later in the year. 

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