Leveling Up on the High Point Story

HP1079_coverReaders of this blog should know we’ve been working on a film since our inception.  The story, which we have been calling, Turning Point, is a documentary about a city in North Carolina that got serious about its domestic violence problem.  With documentaries, the power of the story sometimes reveals itself the further you get into the process.  This is exactly what happened with our film team. At some point last year, we all came to the same conclusion: This story is bigger than us. We knew we had a tiger by the tail that deserved a mass audience and higher production values.

Today, after a few months of deliberation and putting the pieces together, we’re announcing we’re partnering with a world class documentary filmmaker to produce the High Point story.  We’re starting over to create a feature film with an ambitious budget and with professionals who are expert filmmakers and storytellers. The amazing news is, we will continue to work on this project creatively. Our two directors will be filming and editing the story.  My role will be to continue to advise on the story, and pitch in on fund-raising.

Our partner is The Documentary Group.  The “Doc Group,” as its known in the film industry, is one of the leading documentary filmmakers in the world.  The company was founded in 2006 by core members of PJ Productions following the death of legendary broadcaster Peter Jennings.  The producers and directors were the team behind Jennings’ documentaries at ABC News.  We had our first meeting with the doc group in November, and decided to move forward together to tell this incredible story.  This week, the film team is back in High Point kicking off the first of many on-location shoots.

Our producer on the film, Tom Yellin, was recently nominated for an Academy Award for Cartel Land.  Cartel Land is a feature documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015.  It has since won a series of high profile industry recognition awards and accolades including the 2015 George Polk Award for Documentary Film.  Next Sunday, February 28, we hope you’ll tune in to the Oscars and wish Tom well.

The High Point story has the potential to make a difference in the field of domestic violence unlike nothing else we could have imagined when we started thinking about fresh, new ways to look at this age-old social problem that results in injuries, broken families, and deaths every day.  We hope you share in our excitement and anticipation for the completion of this game-changing story.

 

Private Violence: A Documentary That Will Save Lives

pv-stills-6Private Violence, directed by Cynthia Hill, is an intimate portrayal of the heartbreaking reality of domestic violence in the United States. The film takes a new approach to the issue by exploring the unattainable answer to the question: “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Through the eyes of survivors, Deanna Walters and Kit Gruelle, the audience learns why asking that question is futile. It’s not up to the victim to end the abuse.

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Through the legal case of Walters, the audience experiences alongside her the variety of injustices a victim goes through during the healing process. The most enraging being the amount of burden society and the justice system places on the victim, rather than the offender, to end the abuse. Throughout her abuse and later on during the case, Walters was constantly asked, “Why didn’t you just leave?”

“This film will literally save lives,” says executive producer and prominent feminist Gloria Steinem on the documentary, Private Violence.

In the film, Walters’ case clearly demonstrates the flaws in local, state and federal justice systems when it comes to domestic violence. The overwhelming responsibility placed on a victim to provide proof of her abuse is unacceptable. And the fact that victims need to experience violence at a level that is seen as “serious” in the eyes of the law is abhorrent. Even then, assault against a woman is still not considered a serious offense. Walter’s abuser almost killed her and was originally only charged with a misdemeanor. One of the main characters, survivor and advocate,  Kit Gruelle, explained in the beginning of the film the consequences when the legal system refuses to see domestic violence as a serious crime.   She paints a bleak picture, “I sometimes refer to restraining orders as a last will and testament… There’s probably 45 or 50 orders here, and every single one of the women who went to obtain these orders of protection was murdered in precisely the ways that they said they would be.”

There’s no question this film is an important tool in the fight against domestic violence in the United States. It demonstrates why offender-based programs like the one in North Carolina’s High Point Police Department are vital to end this injustice once and for all.

 If you find yourself in Austin, Texas in December, Big Mountain Data is sponsoring a public viewing of this film. Many of the members of the cast will be present, including, Kit Gruelle. Details below. Please join us. 

 SUNDAY DECEMBER 7th

Featured Film: Private Violence

With Special Guest: Kit Gruelle

Stateside Theatre at the Paramount, 719 Congress Avenue

VIP Reception, 1:00-2:00 p.m., Theatre lobby

Film, 2:30 p.m.

Q & A, 4:00-4:45 p.m.

 

Photos: Private Violence