Oscars Shed Light on Sexual Abuse and Violence

Academy award

As an Oscar voter for more than 25 years, I’m a member of the Public Relations branch, which means I have promoted films for studios both large and small. I love the DVD screeners that magically arrive “for your consideration” by mail starting in November―and I look forward to nominations and final ballots each winter.

But almost five years ago, I stepped away from all the donuts you can eat on a movie set―and signed on to a new adventure at FUTURES.

As Director of Communications, I often wonder what it is that I can write or say that will disrupt the violence that women and children are exposed to in every corner of the world. How can we improve the culture of a college campuses so that rape and sexual assault will not be tolerated? How can we work with lawmakers to advocate for policies that protect survivors of abuse? How can we change customs that prevent the basic rights of and women and girls internationally?

Based on last night’s Academy Awards, consider this option: make a movie.

Take the issue of violence against women and children―that has historically been in the shadows―and put it front and center. Engage. Discuss. Suggest solutions.  Last night, I was pleased to see four different projects use the powerful medium of film to take a courageous stand on the issue of violence against women and children.

Here are my favorite moments from the 88th Academy Awards that are helping to amplify the conversation surrounding violence against women and children:

Standing With Survivors 

Vice President Joe introduced Lady Gaga’s anthem for the ground-breaking documentary The Hunting Ground but it was particularly powerful to see her surrounded by survivors of abuse on stage. Watch the introduction:

Shining A Spotlight on Abuse 

Spotlight winning the 2016 Best Picture of the Year award. The film is based on a true story about a team of reporters at The Boston Globe who exposed a massive cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. Hours before the Oscars, one of the lead actors Mark Ruffalo participated in a protest to draw attention to the issue. “I’m here to stand with the survivors and the victims and the people we’ve lost from Catholic priest childhood sex abuse,” he said. Watch the trailer:

Brie Larson in Room 

Brie Larson winning Best Actress for her depiction of a young mother in Room, who is held captive in a room and assaulted for years before finding a way to freedom for herself and her young son. Watch the acceptance speech:

Speaking Out For Women Across the Globe 

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning Best Documentary Short for her film about honor killings in Pakistan, Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. The young director met with the Pakistani Prime Minster and is hopeful that he will pass a law that makes honor killings a crime against the state. Watch the trailer:

I’m so pleased to see these films elevating the issue of gender-based violence and I hope to see more moments like this in the future!