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Rape Is...

"Rape is…," a half-hour documentary video, explores the meaning and consequences of rape. This documentary looks at rape from a global and historical perspective, but focuses mainly on the domestic cultural conditions that make this human rights violation the most underreported crime in America. Many types of sexual assault are not considered a serious crime by the legal system and our society refuses to see the true cost of this brutal denial of basic rights. "Rape is..." expands the narrow ways we think of sexual violence, and demonstrates that it is not a sporadic and rare occurrence, but a cultural and criminal outrage that affects millions of women, children and men all over the world.

Few are likely to dispute that a sexual attack by a stranger is an act of rape, but what about the far more common acts of sexual violence committed by relatives, dates, "boyfriends", or "customers" of the increasingly lucrative sex trades? This documentary explores these complicated issues, but always focuses on the terrible price that survivors of these acts pay, not only in physical pain but in psychological damage caused by the loss of trust, the guilt and confusion, and the destruction of self esteem.

"Rape is.." is, in the tradition of the previous films of CDF, a challenging and often deeply troubling documentary. But it is unlikely to allow audiences to leave with the complacent and inhumane view that rape is simply a crime or that, as one misguided judge claimed about the eleven year old victim of an adult rapist, "It takes two to tango". "Rape is…" will anger some, upset many, and wake up everyone who views it to the reality of a world where sexual violence puts millions of women, children, and men in a state of terror and dread.

" Rape is…" includes the poetry and ideas of:

  • Salamishah Tillet , a rape survivor and co-producer of the multimedia performance piece on rape, "A Long Walk Home."
  • Eve Ensler, playwright, "The Vagina Monologues," rape survivor and activist who explores the ideas behind V-day stop rape actions.
  • Vednita Carter, the founder and director of Breaking Free, an organization that provides services to prostituted women. Her insights about the connections between prostitution and rape inform "Rape is…"
  • Diane Rosenfeld, a Fellow at Harvard Law School who teaches in the women's studies department at Harvard. She provides crucial ideas about the issue.
  • Rich Ridlon, whose uncle sexually abused him throughout his childhood. Rich has spent 8 years in various prisons and criminal institutions. His perspectives on the consequences of rape and his understanding of prison rape are critical to the understanding of rape.
  • Kathy Girod , a rape survivor, whose psychological and social insights make the consequences of rape starkly evident.

What they say about "Rape Is"

"We used Rape is... for our Week Without Violence programming. Our audience was extremely receptive and found it to be a powerful and revealing documentary. We will recommend it most strongly!"
Christine M. Kienzle, Education Outreach Coordinator, YWCA Summit County, Ohio

"I can hardly find the words to express my gratitude for the film and my amazement that such a complex topic could be treated so justly and effectively in a 30 minute film. Congratulations to all of you and thank you for such important work."
Prof. Carole Sheffield, Dept. of Political Science, William Paterson University

"This is the best film I have ever seen in my life! And I have seen countless films as an education advocate. It is so well done and so honest and makes an enormous impact."
Jill Hyde, Rape Crisis Advocate, Saratoga Rape Crisis Center

"We found Rape is... to be a powerful and important piece for people everywhere who work in the movement to end violence against women and children. This video will serve as a great reference and educational tool for sexual assault programs and coalitions, students, educators, community leaders and others."
Casey Marx, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

"Rape is... comes at a time when the rape of children and teenagers by Catholic priests is daily in the news; when advocates against sexual violence have called for a declaration of statewide emergency against the 'epidemic'...a raw, jolting, powerful new documentary"
Margery Eagan, The Boston Herald

"Quite simply, this is the best film on rape that I have ever seen."
Joan Zorza, Editor, Sexual Assault Report, Domestic Violence Report

"[Rape is...] offers a somber, intense look at rape in all its forms: child abuse, date rape, stranger rape, wartime rape, marital rape, prison rape. The viewer is taken from African war zones to American living rooms. Ultimately, the message is that rape is both a personal and a political act."
Bella English, The Boston Globe

"'Rape is...', the newest film from Academy Award-winning documentarians Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich, provides an emotionally honest look at rape in all its forms, from war crimes to child abuse. Through interviews with legal experts, social service professionals and rape survivors themselves, Lazarus and Wunderlich hit you in gut with their powerful, thought-provoking film."
-Dorie Clark, The Boston Globe

"The film is terrific. One of the best I've seen in a long time. It will be a great teaching tool. My frustration with previous documentaries about rape is that they rarely addressed the underlying questions about culture, economics, and the pervasiveness of rape as an act of power and control. "Rape Is..." does this. It avoids the common tendency of the media to approach this issue narrowly (what I call the Bad Man approach), by situating all forms of sexual violence in global context, whether it is rape as an act of war or political torture, or rape as an act of individual possession by an acquaintance. And equally as important, this is accomplished with a tone of respect for the audience. I will definitely be using this in my peer educator training as well as in the courses I teach. Well done!"
- Claire N. Kaplan Coordinator, UVA Sexual Assault Education Office

"One of my students was able to get me a copy of "Rape Is.." to preview. It is probably the best video on rape that I have seen. It works because it uses both a global and personal approach. It puts the issue of rape into the context of sexual violence by discussing systematic raping during war, prostitution, rape in jails, male incest victims, stranger and acquaintance rape. It is political and personal at the same time. I feel it is a video for a wide variety of audiences."
-Gretchen Krull, M.Ed., Sexual Asssault Prevention and Intervention Program, Amherst College

Awards and Screenings

  • "Audience Award" Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival (March 2003)
  • PASS Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (2003)
  • Selected for the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and UCLA/Film Dept. series of "outstanding documentaries" (2003)

Screened at numerous festivals including:

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • USA Film Festival
  • Women's Commission, United Nations (2003)
  • Peace and Human Security Film Festival ( 2002)
  • Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival ( 2002)
  • Crested Butte Film Festival ( 2002)
  • DocSide Touring Film Festival (March-November 2003)
  • CDC Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Annual Conference
  • 12th Annual Women and Society Conference

Ordering Information

Running time: 32 minutes.
Price: $215 (+ $10 handling and shipping.)
The price includes public performance rights ( you can show it to a class or at a public event.)
Available with Spanish subtitles (same price)
Go to the order page.

Rapeis.org : A resource site we have created to connect you with links, research and other activists.

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