The #MeToo movement has revealed the toxic way in which women are frequently silenced and ignored when they allege sexual assault — that is if they feel empowered enough to come forward in the first place. For women of colour, more so, who also bear the cultural forces that compels victims to further remain silent.
It's something that #MeToo founder Tarana Burke offers insight on in the acclaimed documentary, On The Record, where the challenges that Black women face when seeking justice and speaking out are explored.
The centre of the film examines the story of senior music executive Drew Dixon (a collaborator on hit records by Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Whitney Houston, Estelle and Method Man) as she wrestles with her decision to become one of the first women of colour to come forward in the wake of the #MeToo movement with her account of sexual assault by hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons.
Directed and produced by Oscar-nominated, award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War), and executive produced by AFI/AACTA award-winning filmmaker Ian Darling in association with Shark Island Institute.
Director, Kirby Dick said that it is rewarding to help elevate the voices of survivors through film.
“I think a film like this one — where the survivors allowed us to go very in-depth into their thoughts and experiences — will help other survivors to view their own experiences introspectively, and to realise the massive toll and ripple effect these crimes can have on one’s life, and even an industry at large.”
Amy Ziering, Director, echoed sentiments, saying, "We hope that [this film] gives solace, comfort, and a voice to women who have experienced sexual assault and haven’t seen their stories represented in this way. And we hope it advances the cultural conversation surrounding these issues in ways that inspire and enlighten.”
The documentary, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to glowing reviews, pairs Dixon’s story with the stories of other accusers including activist and author, Sil Lai Abrams and author and co-founder of the first all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, Sheri Sher.
Deeply illuminating and packed with powerful perspectives, On the Record’s narrative is weaved with interviews by prominent Black thought leaders, activists, journalists, and academics, who are able to speak to the unique situations African-American women face when dealing with sexual violence in a society plagued by racism such as, Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Shanita Hubbard, Kierna Mayo, and Dr. Joan Morgan.
Anusha Duray, NITV Acquisitions Manager says the channel is proud to be bringing a "vital, gut-punching" documentary to the Australian screen.
"This story resonates for so many women across the world and continues the conversation that we need to keep having about not only stopping sexual violence against women but also creating culturally safe pathways of support, justice, and healing for all survivors,” Duray said.
On The Record premieres Sunday, 30 August at 8.30pm on NITV, following its run at the Melbourne International Film Festival.