Wednesday May 21
This was a no-movies day. Not because I screwed up my schedule but actually by design. Sometimes, you have to prioritize meetings, not to mention catching up on the work that’s piled up at home. Colin and I have the June Royal calendar to put to bed in the next few days and he’s been hard at work contacting distributors about titles we want to show.
Meanwhile, one of the films I’m working on, a noirish murder mystery with Peter Lynch (of Project Grizzly fame, among many other things) is at a polished enough stage to be ready to start hunting for dollars. We’ve already applied to the OMDC and have been prepped to send our stuff to Telefilm for a couple of weeks now, but their nightmarishly Kafkaesque system of signing up for the electronic submission systsem has caused a few delays.
If I’d known, for example, that they would only send me the PIN by registered mail, and that my housesitter would not be able to pick it up from the post office (because he is not me) and that even after convincing them to give me the PIN electronically (after days and days of delays) that it would still not work, because they didn’t correctly inform me about whether to sign up as an “individual” or “company” … well, let’s just say that if I’d known it was approximately 100 times more time consuming than signing up for any other online protal I’ve ever dealt with, I’d have started the process months ago, in anticipation of submitting something in May.
But who’s complaining? I’ve got my application ready, I’ve talked to someone at their office to ensure that it’s not too late to submit, and I’m doing it. From Cannes. At specific and somewhat inconvenient hours, because even though this is all online, it’s still got “hours”. Sigh.
The way Telefilm’s film fund works, for production, anyway, is that they open the doors to submissions at a certain point in the year (March-ish) and then start giving money away until the year’s allotment is depleted. So, it’s in one’s best interest to apply early, as they’re usually tapped out by June (sometimes money frees up in the fall when projects get stalled or postponed but that’s another matter). I was nervous about applying so late, but we weren’t ready before now so it’s kind of moot. And, we’ve been talking to them about our project since last fall, so they’re ready for it and have assured us it’s not too late. Fingers crossed, eh? It should be submitted completely by end of day Friday (today, as I write this).
Other than wrestling with the bureaucratic beast that is our national film agency, I did also manage to have a completely wonderful lunch with a bunch of super cool genre film ladies (three in sales, one in distribution, a couple in festivals, and one other producer), an annual thing that my mogul-in-training friend Ivy Lam has been organizing at every market for the past couple of years. It’s actually wonderful to connect with other women working not only in film but also in the very boys-club-ish niche of genre.
On the topic of “women” and all that, here’s an example of why Colin’s feminist outburst this week was so appreciated by so many. While at the lunch I heard a story from one of the festival programmer ladies about her attempt to politely reject someone’s (offensive) film and being told that he’d like “one of the male programmers” to look at it. That guy can go fuck himself.
In the evening we caught up (at Papa Nino’s yet again, it’s becoming a major habit) with two friends – the always charming Lane Kneedler of AFI Fest and one of my favourite film journalists, Drew McWeeny (a truly wonderful human, too). Movies are, of course, not to be underestimated. But the best part of having a travel-heavy festival schedule is the fact that you get to catch up with friends from far away. Because, let’s face it, I can’t actually go to London, Tallin, L.A., New York, Paris, Munich, Tokyo every year, but there are a lot of people who I love dearly in all of those cities, and it’s nice to at least see them here, in Berlin, and at TIFF (lucky me for living in one of the hubs).
After dinner, we had a drink at the Grand with an agent friend (a French expat living in L.A.) who gave both Colin and I some really inspiring career and life advice. More on that in a future blog post!
Of course, we ended up at the Petit Majestic at the end of the night. I don’t need to tell you how that ended. All I will say is, I did not drink any “Desperados” and that is, in itself, a victory.
This morning, I read and was infuriated by Emily Yoffe’s Slate article, “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk”. Just once, I’d love it if anyone – especially (radically!) a woman – actually wrote an article that tells men not to be rapists, instead of suggesting that “putting all the responsibility of preventing sexual assault on the victims” is somehow a feminist point of view. So, for fun, I rewrote her article. I did not spend a lot of time on this, because I’m trying to make a really simple point. Most of the words below are her own. I changed only references to gender. Everywhere that Ms Yoffe said something about giving “warnings to women about their behavior”, I changed it to a warning for men.
NOTE: I bolded the changes I made, to make it easier for you to see them.
That’s all I did, the rest (including all links to other articles & studies) is still in her own words. Just imagine a world in which articles like this actually got written.
College Men: Stop Raping Women
It IS sexual assault. And yet we’re reluctant to tell men to stop doing it.
In one awful high-profile case after another—the U.S. Naval Academy; Steubenville, Ohio; now the allegations in Maryville, Mo.—we read about a young man, sometimes only a boy, who goes to a party and ends up raping a girl. As soon as the school year begins, so do reports of female students sexually assaulted by their male classmates. A common denominator in these cases is alcohol, often copious amounts, enough to render the young man incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. But a misplaced fear of blaming the perpetrators has made it somehow unacceptable to warn inexperienced young men that when they get wasted, they are putting themselves at risk of becoming rapists.
A 2009 study of campus sexual assault found that by the time they are seniors, almost 20 percent of college women will become victims, overwhelmingly of a fellow classmate. Very few will ever report it to authorities. The same study states that more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. Frequently both the man and the woman have been drinking. The men tend to use the drinking to justify their behavior, as this survey of research on alcohol-related campus sexual assault by Antonia Abbey, professor of psychology at Wayne State University, illustrates, while for many of the women, having been drunk becomes a source of guilt and shame. Sometimes the woman is the only one drunk and runs into a particular type of shrewd—and sober—sexual predator who lurks where women drink like a lion at a watering hole. For these kinds of men, the rise of female binge drinking has made campuses a prey-rich environment. I’ve spoken to three recent college graduates who were the victims of such assailants, and their stories are chilling.
Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let men know that when they drink to excess, they can end up becoming these very perpetrators. Young men are getting a distorted message that having sex with any woman they want – regardless of whether the woman consents – is their right. The real message should be that when you drink so much that you lose the ability to be responsible for actions, you drastically increase the chances that you will become a sexual predator and a threat to women around you. That’s not villainizing all men; that’s trying to prevent them from becoming rapists.
Experts I spoke to who wanted young men to get this information said they were aware of how loaded it has always been to give warnings to men about their behavior. “I’m always feeling defensive that my main advice is: ‘Don’t rape. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to the point of losing your cognitive faculties so that you think it’s ok to rape,’ ” says Anne Coughlin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, who has written on rape and teaches feminist jurisprudence. She adds that by not telling them the truth—that they are responsible for their own actions —she worries that we are “infantilizing men.”
The “Campus Sexual Assault Study” of 2007, undertaken for the Department of Justice, found that the popular belief that many young rape victims have been slipped “date rape” drugs is false. “Most sexual assaults occur after voluntary consumption of alcohol by the victim and assailant,” the report states. But the researchers noted that this crucial point is not being articulated to young and naïve men: “Despite the link between substance abuse and sexual assault it appears that few sexual assault and/or risk reduction programs address the relationship between substance use and sexual assault.” The report added, somewhat plaintively, “Students may also be unaware of the image of predatoriness projected by a visibly intoxicated individual.”
“I’m saying that men are responsible for sexually victimizing women,” says Christopher Krebs, one of the authors of that study and others on campus sexual assault. “When your judgment is compromised, your risk of becoming a rapist is elevated.”
The culture of binge drinking—whose pinnacle is the college campus—does not just harm men. Surveys find that more than 40 percent of college students binge drink, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as consuming five or more drinks for a man and four or more for a woman in about two hours. Of those drinkers, many end their sessions on gurneys: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that about 600,000 students a year are injured due to their drinking, and about 700,000 are assaulted by a classmate in a drunken encounter. Some end up on slabs: About 1,800 students a year die as a consequence of alcohol intake.
The site Compelled to Act, started by the grief-stricken father of a college-student daughter who died because of a drunken snowmobile accident, keeps a tally of alcohol-related death, including reports of students who perish due to alcohol overdoses, falls, and drownings. The typical opening weeks of school (except perhaps at Brigham Young University) result in stories like this one at the University of Maryland: In the first three weeks of the semester, 24 students were taken to the hospital for alcohol-related causes. Then police were called to an off-campus bar known for serving freshman to investigate a stabbing involving underage students.
I don’t believe any of these statistics will move in the right direction until binge drinking joins smoking, drunk driving, and domestic abuse as behaviors that were once typical and are now unacceptable. Reducing binge drinking is going to require education, enforcement, and a change in campus social culture. These days the weekend stretches over half the week and front-loading and boot and rally are major extracurricular activities. Puking in your hair, peeing in your pants, and engaging in dangerous behaviors have to stop being considered hilarious escapades or proud war stories and become a source of disgust and embarrassment.
As a parent with a son heading off to college next year, I’ve noted with dismay that in some college guidebooks almost as much space is devoted to alcohol as academics. School spirit is one thing, but according to The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, when the University of Florida plays Florida State University, “Die-hard gator fans start drinking at 8 am. No joke.” I guess I’m supposed to be reassured to read that at the University of Idaho, “Not everyone is an alcoholic.”
“High-risk alcohol use is the one thing connected to all, and I mean all, the negative impacts in higher education,” says Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law and author ofThe Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University. He cites the problems of early student attrition and perpetually disappointing graduation rates.
I’ve told my son that it’s his responsibility to take steps to ensure he does not become a sexual abuser. (“I hear you! Stop!”) The biological reality is that women do not metabolize alcohol the same way as men, and that means drink for drink women will get drunker faster. I tell him I know alcohol will be widely available (even though it’s illegal for most college students) but that he’ll have a good chance of knowing what’s going on around him if he limits himself to no more than two drinks, sipped slowly—no shots!—and stays away from notorious punch bowls. If male college students start moderating their drinking as a way of looking out for their female counterparts—and looking out for your own self-interest should be a primary human principle—I hope their restraint reduces the likelihood that they will victimize women.
If I had a daughter, I would tell her that it’s in her self-interest not to be the drunken sorority girl who finds herself accusing a classmate of raping her. Because this University of Richmond student is an example of what would probably happen. He was acquitted in one of the extremely rare cases in which a campus rape accusation led to a criminal trial.