Marjorie Nielsen On The Making Of "It Happened Here"

Marjorie Nielsen On The Making Of "It Happened Here"

Authority wasn't the answer for them.

The term "sexual assault" has become strikingly and frighteningly synonymous with "college" in recent years, especially on the heels of the horrific Stanford case that captivated our news feeds earlier this summer. Early in my senior year, I came across a 2014 documentary by the name of, "It Happened Here." The film was released a year earlier than "The Hunting Ground." I actually found "It Happened Here" to strike more of a chord, telling the story of five college girls, Angie Epifano (Amherst College), Kylie Angell (UConn), Sarah O'Brien (Vanderbilt), Carolyn Luby (UConn) and Erica Daniels (UConn), their assaults and what they did to help future victims. The film's producer, Marjorie Nielsen, was kind enough to speak with me about the film and everything that went into it.

When asked how she approached the women in the film, Marjorie said, "There's resources and organizations where women have already come forth, where they've just taken action....The very first thing I did was contact Angie Epifano through the Amherst paper, and she got right back to us. And we started filming her two weeks later...we just started right away. And then from Angie I moved onto other — I just put the word out. I thought that would be the hard part — was getting women to speak."

On the contrary though, the difficult part wasn't getting the victims to talk, but their administrators, who came under fire after the women filed Title IX complaints against the schools (remember, three of the women featured were students at UConn — three).

Regarding the lack of women of color and male victims in the film, Marjorie admitted to having to fall on her sword for that one. She explained that though they tried to depict a cross-section of victims (from state schools, athletes, those in Greek life), it wasn't a full depiction. "It was not hard getting the women to come forth."

Marjorie empathizes with the steps schools have to take, "I feel bad for schools, I really do. They're not mental health experts, and they're not criminal experts. And they've got to get those resources unfortunately. And they've got to get them where they're accessible to the students."

Regarding the hesitation of victims to come forward, Marjorie equated it to that feeling of dread and unease we all feel at the sight of a cop car, whether or not we've done anything to warrant getting pulled over. We still feel guilty; we still feel like maybe we did something that could be misconstrued that maybe somehow brought about the controversial act. You'd think something along the lines of, "I was in his room, my bad....[You] just really start to blame yourself. Are you really going to call the cop[s]?"

The film hits home, not least for anyone who hasn't found solace in authority in a time of need.

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To The Celebrities Who Didn't Wear Black To The Golden Globes

In a sea of black, red will shine through.

The Golden Globes were aired this past. If you didn't notice, Hollywood decided to coordinate their color dresses but some celebrities stuck out from the crowd like sore thumbs. The event was meant to advocate for sexual harassment and sexual assault in the entertainment industry and hoped that by making a statement with color, the message would be heard worldwide that women are no longer remaining silent when oppressed by powerful misogynists.

Maybe some missed the memo and decided to roll with it anyway, or they simply chose to remain completely separate from this highly politicized issue. Either way, the time and place for individuality may not have been a place dedicated to activism.

Blanca Blanco and Barbara Meier were among the few women who chose to wear red to the awards ceremony. People had some interesting things to say about it, too:

Some may have responded in rather funny ways, but the root of this issue is anything but humorous. These women made their statements as to why they chose not to dress in black, but people are not accepting these responses as valid.

Blanca Blanco simply responded, “I love red,” which not only refuses to address the actual issue of failure to support, but it does little to really explain her choice. If you ask a football player who refuses to kneel during the anthem why they do it, I’m sure their response wouldn’t be, “I like standing.” Every choice means something, and one can venture a guess that choices made by people of high fame are almost inherently political.

As entertainers and icons, it is important to exercise your voice and be heard and stand up for issues that impact the majority of people. To wear red when women supporting sexual harassment and assault victims are wearing black is not only disrespectful to the cause, it essentially states to these women that what they are advocating for is not worth supporting, or worse, is not worth acknowledging at all.

Cover Image Credit: NBC

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