Port Townsend Film Festival to screen documentary on sexual shaming, assault

Katie Kowalski arts@ptleader.com
Posted 1/31/17

After an initial screening of a documentary on sexual shaming and bullying, a group of local high school students was adamant the film be included in the Port Townsend Film Festival’s (PTFF) 2016 …

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Port Townsend Film Festival to screen documentary on sexual shaming, assault

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After an initial screening of a documentary on sexual shaming and bullying, a group of local high school students was adamant the film be included in the Port Townsend Film Festival’s (PTFF) 2016 lineup.

“We don’t care what else you screen,” the student reviewers told festival organizers, “you’ve got to show this film,” according to PTFF director Janette Force.

For years, high school students in OCEAN, Port Townsend’s alternative learning program, have helped select one of the films for the festival.

This year, after watching a selection of prospective youth-oriented PTFF films, they were insistent that “UnSlut: A Documentary Film” was the one that needed to make the PTFF cut, Force said.

Supported by the students’ recommendation, Force screened the documentary at the festival, which was attended by its director and producer, Emily Lindin.

“I think the exciting thing for me was the response from students to this film. It just underscored how essential community conversation is,” said Force, who has received a strong response from other students who have watched the film.

This week, Port Townsend Film Festival, along with other community organizations, is bringing back both the documentary and its director for four days of student and community screenings, with a one set for Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Chimacum High School.

“Boy, do I feel fortunate that Emily was able to return,” Force said. “She was such a great, dynamic guest.”

IMPORTANT TOPIC

Lindin’s documentary is part of The UnSlut Project, an online community she founded where survivors of sexual bullying and “slut” shaming can share their stories, and where girls who are currently suffering can find support and solidarity.

The Wednesday screening is presented by Jefferson County Public Health, Dove House Advocacy Services, The CoLab and Chimacum Prevention Coalition, and is to be followed by a moderated discussion on bullying, sexual assault and gender discrimination.

One of the speakers scheduled to attend is Denise Banker, community prevention and wellness coordinator for the health department, and coordinator of Chimacum Prevention Coalition.

“It’s a great film; it's a tough film – and it’s absolutely worth talking about, particularly right now,” Banker said.

Banker plans to talk about how bullying, including sexual and cyber bullying, can cause kids to turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism.

“Kids who are bullied are more like to suffer from depression, and depression leads to abuse of alcohol and drugs,” Banker said, noting that bystanders and also perpetrators of bullying are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Banker found the film especially pertinent in light of recent local news, including a voyeurism case involving a 17-year-old boy filming female employees at Ferino’s Pizzeria. “That's sexual bullying, too,” she said.

“I also thought that the information [in the film] was revelatory in the sense that, a lot of times, we don't even know that we're bullying people,” Banker said. “The film also shows us how systemic it is.

“It asks us to reflect; it asks us to say, ‘What’s my role in this?’”

Dove House staffers are also to attend the screening, and be available to talk if anyone seeing the film needs to talk with someone right away, Banker said.

Preceding the Wednesday screening, the film, which Force said is suitable for high school students ages 14 and older, is to be shown to Chimacum students on Monday.

Banker said she hopes to see many of those students’ parents at the Wednesday screening, so that they, too, can be part of the important conversation.

THE PROJECT

The UnSlut Project was inspired by Lindin’s own experience. When she was 11 years old, Lindin said, she was labeled “slut” by classmates and was bullied at school, after school and online. During all this time, she kept a diary.

Now a Harvard graduate, author and recent Ph.D., Lindin began The UnSlut Project by blogging her own middle school diaries. This led to an online community, book, film and personal appearances throughout the world.

Lindin is Teen Vogue’s sexual wellness columnist and has been featured on ABC with Katie Couric, CNN with Brooke Baldwin, The Doctors, Al Jazeera America, HLN, DNTO radio with Sook-Yin Lee, NPR with Lance Orozco of KCLU, Deutsche Welle radio, Radio Ireland, and in many magazines and blogs, including The Telegraph, The New Statesman, This Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Observer.

Lindin’s film inspires and motivates people everywhere to speak up about the dangerous, lasting effects of sexual bullying, “slut shaming” and all forms of gender-based discrimination.

For more information about the project, see her website:

unslutproject.com/my-diary.html.

In addition to the showing at Chimacum High School, “UnSlut” also is to be screened at the Bainbridge Museum of Art on Monday, Feb. 6 and at Peninsula College, Maier Auditorium, on Thursday, Feb. 9. For additional info, visit

ptfilmfest.com.

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