A powerful documentary, On the Record, is set to hit free to air television in Australia on Sunday, August 30.
Airing on National Indigenous Television (NITV), the film is a “#MeToo reckoning for Black culture — misogyny, sexual harassment and the censorship of women of colour”.
Directed and produced by award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Hunting Ground), On the Record examines the story of senior music executive Drew Dixon — who was a collaborator on hit records by Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Whitney Houston, Estelle and Method Man — as she wrestles with her decision to become one of the first women of colour to come forward in the wake of the #MeToo movement with her account of sexual assault by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
Sil Lai Abrams (activist and author) and Sheri Sher (author and co-founder of the first all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies), also tell their stories — which explores the ways in which the voices of women of colour are frequently silenced and ignored when they allege sexual assault — in addition to the cultural forces that compel victims to remain silent.
Weaved into the fabric of the piece are interviews with prominent Black thought leaders, activists, journalists and academics who are able to speak to the unique situations African-American women face when dealing with sexual violence in a society plagued by racism.
Ziering has already done two films in the sexual assault arena “long before the subject was popular or trending”.
The Invisible War and The Hunting Ground were the first films to do a “systematic analysis of these crimes and examine the horrific toll that these acts take, and offer up to audiences the unadulterated voices of survivors,” she said in an interview with NITV.
“When the #MeToo movement happened, our cell phones exploded with people telling us: “You should go back into the space. There are all of these people talking now, and all of these different industries opening up.’ We were intrigued and thought, ‘Yes, if anyone is going to document this significant cultural moment, it should be us.’ So we jumped in and started talking to anyone with a story to share.”
For director Dick, the project has been a “rewarding” experience.
“Not only are survivors facing an internal battle, but they’re also struggling with a
culture that doesn’t accept them. For us, it’s rewarding to help elevate the voices of survivors through our films.”
On The Record premieres Sunday, August 30 at 8:30 pm on NITV following its run at the Melbourne International Film Festival. It will then be available on SBS On Demand for 24 months.