"Perspectives" asks the question: Given all that we know, why does sexual assault happen? "Perspectives" looks at different levels of knowledge (and experience) with sexual assault and rape on college and university campuses in the greater Boston area. Using "man-on-the-street" interviews, as well as a range of expert opinion, the film examines the perceptions that guide the thinking of young people between the ages of 18-24.
"Leading A New Response" profiles one of the oldest not-for-profit legal resources in New England: The Victim Rights Law Center of Boston. Using one-on-one interviews and archival footage, this film provides insight on how this organization helps victims seek justice and come to terms with sexual assault and rape.
We decided to make three docs that would show some of the consequences of sexual assault. Shatter the Silence and Leading A New Response looked at the legal aspects of trying to prosecute predators and how victims can seek justice. Perspectives led us into Boston and the surrounding area to find out how students felt about sexual assault.
There is no easy way to talk about sexual assault, it's one of those unusual topics that when mentioned either ends up making the whole room uncomfortable or gets swept under the table. When we began investigating the subject ofsexual assault, I was astonished at how numerous unreported cases were. It made me feel it was my responsibility to help bring this topic to light. Its been a rewarding journey, meeting with victims and seeing how the judiciary system works. In the end, if this documentary helps one victim to report being sexually assaulted, I’ll feel like I made a difference.
Working on this project opened my eyes to the pain and injustice that the vast majority of sexual assault victims experience. So many have stories that have never heard, having been buried in the form of a rape kit in the basement of a police precinct. I see this project as an opportunity to give voices to those who have none.
I became more of an activist to end sexual assault on human beings…
The project has given me insight on how passionate people feel about this topic. Many people feel that students on college and university campuses are not educated enough about the issue of sexual assault. It is a really good feeling knowing that we are making a difference.
Working on this project gave me a new perspective on sexual assault and the ramifications of its aftermath through documentary filmmaking. Far too often this issue gets swept under the rug and the victims are left to fend for themselves. Students need to be educated more on sexual assault and I hope that through these documentaries they can see what the harsh truths of sexual assault are and want to change it for future generations.
PERSPECTIVES focuses on students’ interpretations of the meaning of rape and sexual assault, specifically in the college setting. The interviews gave me an understanding of how people within my own age group perceive the subject matter.
Robert Johnson, Jr. is Professor of Communication Arts and teaches television production, screen writing, and documentary filmmaking. He produced and directed a history of science documentary series that aired on PBS, as well as the award winning “No Short Climb: Race Workers & America’s Defense Technology” which was screened in the American Documentary Showcase—a cultural diplomacy program sponsored by the US. State Department. His most recent documentary, “The Making of Madame White Snake”, provides a behind the scenes view of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning opera. He has been the guest speaker/lecturer at Harvard University, Rutgers University, and the Smithsonian Institute, and was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Scholarship to teach documentary filmmaking at the National University of Rwanda.