The treatment women receive at the hands of men in almost all countries around the world is reprehensible. It came as no surprise to many but the #metoo movement highlighted just how ingrained the issue is. Just how prevalent sexual assault, abuse and rape is in our society. It’s bad in the UK but it’s even worse in America. Toxic masculinity has seeped into campuses and schools; almost becoming the norm. It’s often at its most pernicious within male sports teams. This macho world is a fertile breeding ground for institutional sexism. Nancy Schwartzman’s powerful new documentary Roll Red Roll shines the light on a horrific case.
Steubenville is a small town in Ohio which is passionate about its (American) football team. It’s the heartbeat of the community and one of the only ways for young men to make a better life for himself. When a girl is sexually assaulted at a pre-season party, the close-knit community sides with two football players. That’s until crime blogger Alex Goddard does some digging and uncovers a treasure trove of disturbing social media content. Using video footage of interviews and following the data trail, Schwartzman pulls together what happened that night.
Roll Red Roll is a cautionary tale about what happens when everyone looks the other way. It’s a disturbing and affecting piece of film-making, edited together cleverly to give it the pace of a thriller. It’s beautifully crafted, building the story around a wealth of great evidence. Roll Red Roll is just one example of a larger pattern of abuse, victim shaming and the rape culture which allows this kind of behaviour to flourish. It’s a timely film, well made.
Roll Red Roll screens at Human Rights Watch Film Festival on 15 & 16 March.