Student films talk assault

By James Green

Student filmmakers are hoping their films will spark discussion on sexual assault.

Graduate communication students Alex Forni and Jacob Johnson each directed a film as part of the Pact5 campaign, which aims to prevent sexual assault and rape on campuses through education. Forni’s film, “In Motion,” is a fictional piece detailing a college student’s experience with sexual assault. Johnson’s “Red Blooded Men” is a documentary discussing the topic of sexual assault with male and female students.

As part of the Pact5 project, “Red Blooded Men” and “In Motion” have been made available to more than 300 other schools across the country, along with student films from four other schools. The Women’s Resource Center is hosting the first on-campus screening of “Red Blooded Men” 5 p.m. Nov. 7 and 10:30 a.m. Nov. 8. Forni said the women’s studies program is also linked to Pact5 online. Media studies professor Laura Vazquez, Johnson and Forni are hoping the films can be incorporated into UNIV courses at NIU, as well.

Both films were screened at the Downbeach Film Festival in Atlantic City, N.J., where they were positively received, Vazquez said. Vazquez said the films also received great feedback at the University Film and Video Association Conference in California.

“One of the women in the audience was a high school counselor looking for videos she could show her students about the subject of assault,” Vazquez said. “It did occur to us that starting the conversation with college students was perhaps late, so we want work that can get the conversation started in high school.”

Forni, Johnson and Vazquez agreed that one of the biggest goals for the films was to create a starting point for discourse on sexual assault, which they all said is an uncomfortable topic for many. Johnson said he wants viewers to see they can be proactive in making changes for the better.

“We need to change the perceptions of these things from inside the culture,” Johnson said. “By talking to men, we can help them shape their views.”

Johsnon hopes “Red Blooded Men” can gain traction through the Internet and Pact5 will lead to a form of awareness curriculum at schools. He said he especially wants high school students and college freshmen to learn about Pact5.

Forni said “In Motion” is being submitted to several film festivals for screening. Forni, who is pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling, wants to continue to work with sexual assault education.

“I think this is really the time to be working on projects to make this change,” Forni said.