“Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America”

October 13, 2010

“Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America”

“I don’t want to be hurt, I don’t want my girls to be hurt. I never would have said it two months ago, but I do deserve better, I don’t care if I’m putting ten years of marriage in the trash I don’t care, I’ve fought and struggled and got us through those ten years and the one good thing I got out of that was my girls. He’s not going to take that away from me.”

Teaching about Domestic Violence with “Power and Control”

Respectfully submitted via DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DOCUMENTARY

As we gear up our outreach and engagement efforts this summer, it’s been gratifying to get to know some of the educators who plan to use “Power and Control” in the classroom. I think that showing the film in colleges — to students in social work, sociology, criminology, women’s studies, law and medicine — will be the way the film has its most powerful direct impact.

College students are still reading and thinking about the world, still asking questions and engaging in debate. Ten years after college (at least in my case), that kind of intellectual growth slows.

At the same time, the film will be providing fresh background to students. The current generation has grown up in a time when feminism and the battered women’s movement have not, unfortunately, been key social concerns. This has dawned on me at some of the screenings of the film, where most of the people in the audience were over 50.

I’m deeply encouraged by the way a group of students at the Florida State University School of Social Work responded to a screening in the spring. The responses were raves. I’m almost embarrassed to quote from some of the response cards because they sound self serving! But believe me, this project has faced plenty of rejection, so a few nice words also help keep the spirit aloft!

Vicky Verano, the course instructor, was kind enough to send me a thoughtful and thorough note. “Your film is a powerful teaching tool because it provides a look at the Duluth Model and how the Model is used with survivors of domestic violence.” During the course of the film, Kim, our main subject, leaves her husband, goes into a shelter, and sets out on a new life. But in the end, she gets back together again with him. Vicky thought this plot line stimulated good discussions in class. “At the end of the movie, some of my students were frustrated that she went back. This opened dialog and provided students to process what ‘really’ happens when women leave and go back and the importance of not blaming rather than supporting a person’s choice.”

Here are three comments from students:

— This is full of valuable info as well as people; it’s not about statistics, it’s about real people, and I feel that the community needs to see this on a human, real level. I also think it’s important to see how people disagree on DV (attack on Duluth model, etc) — knowing all aspects fuels new thoughts!

— Not everyone involved in this field can manage to stay in touch with the victims. Up to date with the field. And unjudgemental of different situations at the same time. This film is a perfect reminder that life is different for everyone and that education and respect are key, regardless of the gender.

— We got to see first hand how domestic violence affects lives and we also saw how a group of activists who believed DV was wrong created a program that made a huge impact and changed numerous lives.

Peter Cohn – director, producer

Cohn is a New York-based writer and film maker. “Power and Control” will be his second documentary feature. “Golden Venture”, his first documentary, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006.  The film also screened at the Amnesty International Film Festival and other festivals.

He produced, co-wrote and directed “Drunks,” a film set in a Manhattan Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, starring Richard Lewis, Faye Dunaway, Dianne Wiest, Parker Posey and Spalding Gray. “Drunks” was shown at Sundance in 1996, premiered on Showtime and was released in 1997 to widespread critical acclaim. The New York Times called it “superbly realized.” “Drunks” won the motion picture industry’s Prism Award for 1997, in recognition of the film’s realistic depiction of alcohol and drug addiction.

He has written screenplays for Fox, Disney, MGM and a wide range of US and European independent producers. He began his writing career as a journalist, first at the Richmond Times Dispatch and then at the Hartford Courant. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon.

Dara Kell – editor

Dara Kell is a filmmaker and editor, born in South Africa. She is a recipient of Participant Media’s Outstanding Filmmaker award, representing Africa. She co-edited “The Reckoning,” which premiered in competition at Sundance 2009, and was additional editor on Academy Award-nominated “Jesus Camp”. She edited “Courting Justice” (distributed by Women Make Movies) which profiles five indomitable female judges committed to enacting transitional justice in South Africa, and was a field producer for Human Rights, Human Needs for Amnesty International, in collaboration with Skylight Pictures. She studied Journalism at Rhodes University, South Africa, where she received the Frank Rostron bursary for Excellence in Journalism. Her short documentary “Indlini Yam” (In My House) about motherhood and AIDS won the Dolphin Award for Best Documentary.

Anne Paulle – consultant; chair, board of advisors

Anne Paulle has held numerous positions in domestic violence advocacy. Most recently, she was Director of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services/Bronx Domestic Violence Programs. She previously served as the Director, New York City Program, New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, New York City. She currently has a private consulting practice, helping individual domestic violence victims and also providing expertise on an organizational level.

“Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America” is a powerful, dramatic and timely exploration of domestic abuse.    The documentary examines the shocking  persistence of violence against women in the US, as refracted through the story of Kim, a mother of three in Duluth, MN.    Duluth was the unlikely birthplace of a revolution in the way society approaches battering, and the second strand of the film tells the story of the leaders from Duluth who remain on the front lines today.   “Power and Control” also looks at the sharply contested debate launched by researchers and professors who have challenged the Duluth approach.

The film is an indispensable resource for university and secondary academics and is particularly recommended for courses in sociology, social work, women’s studies, political science, law enforcement and law. It’s a must-have for public library collections and is being used with great effectiveness by public and non profit organizations. “Power and Control” is also distributed by the New Day Films, the cooperative, film maker-owned and operated distributor.

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