Aspen Ideas Festival film series to screen ‘Audrie & Daisy’
The Aspen Times
If You Go …
What: ‘Audrie & Daisy,’ presented by the Aspen Ideas Festival
Where: Paepcke Auditorium
When: Wednesday, June 29, 7:15 p.m.
How much: $12/public; included for Ideas Fest passholders
Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office; www.aspenshowtix.com
More info: A post-screening discussion will include film subjects Daisy Coleman and Sheila Pott, directors Bonni Coleman and Jon Shenk, and Anna Holmes of First Look Media.
Spotlight Health & Aspen Ideas Festival film series schedule:
Friday, June 24, 7:15 p.m.
with Buzz Bissinger and Bennet Omalu
Saturday, June 25, 7:15 p.m.
Oscar-Nominated Short Films and Discussion
With Ellen Agler, Helen Branswell, Jerry Franck, Courtney Marsch and Duy Nguyen
Sunday, June 26, 8 p.m.
with Donte Clark, Molly Pershin Raynor and Rajiv Vinnakota
Monday, June 27, 7:15 p.m.
with Sonita Alizadeh, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami and Mina Sherzoy
Tuesday, June 28, 7:15 p.m.
with Maria Cuomo Cole, Nicole Hockley, Marie Nelson and Kim Snyder
Wednesday, June 29, 7:15 p.m.
‘Audrie & Daisy’
with Bonni Cohen, Daisy Coleman, Anna Holmes, Sheila Pott and Jon Shenk
Thursday, June 30, 7:15 p.m.
‘Under the Gun’
with Lonnie Phillips, Sandy Phillips and Scott Stossel
Friday, July 1, 7:15 p.m.
‘The Secret Life of Pets’
All screenings will be held at Paepcke Auditorium, with post-screening discussions to follow. Tickets are $12. The Local’s Film Pass includes three films for $30. Available at the Wheeler Box office and http://www.aspenshowtix.com
Searing and sad but vitally important and well-crafted, the documentary “Audrie & Daisy” bears witness to two American high school girls who were sexually assaulted and shamed on social media. The film highlights a troubling and little-discussed national issue.
Audrie Pott hanged herself a week after her assault. Daisy Coleman and her family were driven out of their small Missouri town amid a media storm, but she later joined with teen victims across the U.S. and is now speaking out about her experience.
Teen sexual assault has been an ongoing issue for generations. But the social media age has added a new and dangerous dimension of victimization and shame to it, which drew husband and wife co-directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk to it as a subject.
“When you talk to the girls, you find that they would say the assault was horrible and tragic for them, but the part that made them want to take their own lives was the aftermath,” Cohen said in a recent phone interview. “And this is something new. That’s the new piece and the reason we made the film.”
The film, playing Wednesday at Paepcke Auditorium, is one of nine public screenings at the Aspen Institute over the Spotlight Health and Aspen Ideas Festival, which opened Thursday with “Gleason.” Coleman will join Cohen and Shenk in a post-screening discussion.
Audrie Pott, 15, passed out at a high school party in Saratoga, California, in 2012. Three male classmates stripped her, drew on her with markers, violated her and took pictures, which were soon shared online across the school. The documentary shares her panicked responses to classmates in the days before her suicide.
During the same year, Coleman, 14, and a 13-year-old friend went to meet a group of boys in Maryville, Missouri — they drank with them and then were taken into separate rooms and raped on video by them. When criminal charges against her alleged assailant were dropped, Coleman was barraged with online harassment and her family’s home eventually burned down. The case drew national media attention, which led Delaney Henderson, a high schooler from California with a similar experience, to reach out to Daisy online. They’ve since banded together to share their stories — and other young women’s — in the hopes of reversing a tragic trend.
“We didn’t want to do an issue-based film,” Cohen said. “We wanted to find stories to ground ourselves in.”
The filmmakers flesh out these two stories with the perspectives of parents, friends, classmates and the larger community. The perpetrators in the Pott case talk about the incident and reaction, though they’re rendered anonymous by rotoscope animation and given pseudonyms (being interviewed for the film was a term of a civil court settlement with Audrie’s parents). Law enforcement and public officials also have their say in infuriating but incisive segments where the mayor and sheriff in Maryville discuss Coleman’s case, blaming her and shaming the national media for covering the dropped charges against her alleged assailant.
“Audrie & Daisy” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will be released via Netflix this fall. At the few screenings Cohen and Shenk have given, the discussions the film has sparked have been heated, emotional and — Cohen hopes — the beginning of a societal sea change.
“Nobody wants to leave the Q&A,” she said. “There’s so much that’s brought up for parents, law enforcement, teachers or just being a citizen in the world today and trying to raise kids in the age of social media. There’s no end to the conversation.”
She noted that some of the most fruitful responses to the film have come from teenage boys who have latched on to Daisy’s older brother, Charlie, as an example of how to conduct themselves and how to combat the culture of assault and shame. In the film, he channels his rage over the case into mentoring youngsters in sports.
“We made it with teenagers in mind,” Cohen said, “and educators and parents who can spark the kinds of conversations that aren’t going on.”