Student filmmakers tackle campus rape culture

By KRISTIN ROCHNIAK/Montana State News

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, it is estimated that the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions can be between 20 percent and 25 percent over the course of a college career.

Fewer than 5 percent of completed or attempted rapes against college women are reported to law enforcement.  It is statistics like these that have compelled Montana State University senior filmmakers Adam Dahlen and Sam Lowe-Anker to shed light on the complex issue of rape abuse in American fraternities in a new film.

This film, “Join Us,” was written by the two filmmakers in an attempt to shed light on an “overlooked aspect of ‘gang mentality’ that can exist within institutions such as fraternities,” said Dahlen. The two filmmakers are proud to have had their film chosen by the members of their faculty.

“Through MSU Alert it seemed we were reading new emails every week about sexual assault that came from fraternities, or sports teams. We thought we could make a film about this, and it would be a good thing for the community,” Dahlen

The fictional plot of the film will follow the story of a young student who is pledging a fraternity and ends up finding himself in a bad situation. The story has been crafted to show the responsibly of individuals, as opposed to the fraternities as a whole, when it comes to this issue.  The overall message of the film is not to oppose fraternities, but the individuals that create rape abuse situations.

“It’s hard to not make it seem like an attack when you are working with an issue like this” said Lowe-Anker. “We went with a fraternity to show the concept of the “group mentality” because that was what we were seeing. We are not trying to target frats at all, and we don’t want to make people think that all frat guys are rapists, but instead shed light on the few specific individuals who do these things repeatedly, and how they are able to because of an environment that is conducive to this type of abuse.”

The filmmakers did encounter some opposition from peers in fraternities who assumed on first glance that the film would be an attack on fraternities as a whole. But their professors and other faculty members have been extremely supportive, and once they were able to explain the true meaning of the story they received support from film students involved in Greek life.

“Once they actually read through our script, and saw what we were trying to accomplish, they weren’t angry anymore. Instead they were giving us constructive criticism, which was really cool,” said Lowe-Anker.

Dahlen and Lowe-Anker held auditions recently and had an unexpectedly large turn out for roles both leading and extra, showing a large amount of support from students at MSU.

“We explained our film at the film mixer and people were immediately telling us they wanted to act and be involved,” said Dahlen. “It was so awesome when we had such a good turn out.”

This film mixer happens every semester and is an opportunity to present the senior films being made and collaborate with other filmmakers, photographers, etc.

The film will be available to be viewed online at the end of May 2016. There will also be opportunities to view the film at the MSU film awards show, the Tracys, which will take place during the last week of the spring semester.

– Edited by Conor Glesner

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