Critics’ Pick: “An essential watch.”– The New York Times
“Piercingly relevant.”– Variety
“It’ll stay with you forever.”– Slate
100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Critically-acclaimed awards contender for Best Documentary Feature unflinchingly asks: “Why didn’t anyone stop it?”; Winner of seven film festival awards for best documentary feature
Featuring the awards contender for Best Original Song: ‘Master of Myself” by Morgan Kibby
At a high school pre-season party in small-town Steubenville, Ohio, a heinous crime took place: the assault of a teenage girl by members of the beloved high school football team. As it painstakingly reconstructs the night of the crime and its aftermath, Roll Red Roll (www.rollredrollfilm.com)
Directed by Nancy Schwartzman, winner of seven documentary feature awards, and nominated for the Cinema Eye Honors Spotlight Award, Roll Red Roll had its national broadcast and streaming debut on the PBS documentary series POV and pov.org on Monday, June 17. POV, American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, kicked-off its 32nd season with Schwartzman’s investigative film.
The film is now streaming globally on Netflix: https://www.netflix.
What transpired in Steubenville went on to garner international media attention and resulted in the sentencing of two key offenders; but it was the disturbing social media evidence uncovered by crime blogger Alexandria Goddard, that provoked the most powerful questions about collusion. Not only did teen witnesses and bystanders discredit the victim, but teachers, parents and coaches seemed to protect the assailants. With unprecedented access, the film shares text messages, social media posts, police interviews and the unmasked responses of town residents.
Like many communities across the country, Steubenville takes pride in its high school athletics. Talented and promising young male athletes are practically town ambassadors, held in high regard by their classmates and the entire community. So when two of these young men are charged with the rape of another student, the entire social structure of Steubenville is threatened, and a legacy of sexual assault and forced silence spanning years is revealed.
The film looks closely at social media, a tool that turns out to be remarkably malleable depending on which party is involved. For students, social media documents the acts that took place, becoming a platform to engage in callous and desensitized mockery of the crime of rape. Local authorities use evidence gathered online to assist with their investigation of the case, including incriminating tweets and 400,000 text messages. For local crime blogger Alexandria Goddard, social media presents an opportunity to spread awareness about the high school’s toxic “rape culture” where a “boys-will-be-boys” attitude runs rampant. For the rest of the nation, disturbing images, video and dialogue revealed online create a shocking paper trail that anyone—from concerned citizens to hacktivist group Anonymous—can follow.
“In Roll Red Roll it was important that we shift our focus from the victim and the victim’s behavior to where the scrutiny belongs,” said director/producer Nancy Schwartzman. “By looking at the bigger picture, and weaving in the community and cultural context around the details of the assault, we can see the way teens are being socialized and understand that what happened in Steubenville is not an isolated incident, it’s indicative of a much larger societal problem. Stylistically, we crafted the film to appeal to young men in the hopes that they will wake up and take action.”
Roll Red Roll has a robust impact campaign spearheaded by director Nancy Schwartzman, a globally-recognized human rights and anti-violence activist. The campaign is designed to engage men and boys in the conversation and the work to prevent sexual violence. A team of organizers is working with key partners in the athletic arena, and highlighting male advocates who actively challenge “boys will be boys” and other harmful norms around masculinity. Crafting teaching tools for coaches, parents and school administrators, the film illuminates the endemic issue from the perspective of those who enact the violence – the perpetrators and bystanders – and provides solutions to recognize patterns and eradicate the behavior.
About the Filmmaker:
Nancy Schwartzman, Director/Producer
Nancy Schwartzman is a director, producer, and tech founder who uses storytelling and technology to create safer communities for women and girls. Her debut feature, Roll Red Roll,world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018, had its international premiere at Hot Docs, is the winner of seven feature documentary awards and played over 40 international festivals. For Roll Red Roll,Nancy received the Adrienne Shelly Foundation’s Excellence in Filmmaking Award. The film was nominated for a Cinema Eye Spotlight Award, and is the winner of Best Documentary at the Florida Film Festival, Best in Show at Bend Film Festival, Best Documentary at Monmouth Film Festival, Best Social Impact Doc at Chagrin Falls Festival, and Visualizing History at Middlebury Film Festival. She is the creator of the Circle of 6 mobile app, winner of Vice President Biden’s “App Against Abuse” challenge, an anti-violence tool used by over 350,000 in 36 countries to link users safely to a trusted circle of friends to promote bystander intervention and vetted safety resources. The app has been recognized by the United Nations, Good Morning America, Wired, Cosmopolitan, NPR and more. Her first film, The Line, a short documentary examining consent was used by the White House for a campaign around sexuality, and her follow-up short, xoxosms, was on PBS/POV and BBC exploring love between two teenagers, bridged by technology.
Steven Lake, Producer
Steven Lake is a documentary producer creating social impact films with commercial reach. He is the producer of Roll Red Rollwhich premiered at Tribeca 2018, screened at over 40 international festivals and went on to have a theatrical run in the U.S. The film was called “essential viewing”by the Hollywood Reporter, “Raw and pressing” byAnthony Lane of The New Yorker and was a Critics’ Pick for The New York Times. His feature debut documentary, Drying for Freedom (Amazon Prime), and was the winner of Climate Week’s Best Artistic Response Award. Steven is specializing in security conscious film-making, using new technologies to create safe and secure workflows for films to protect them and their highly sensitive content. He has produced work in collaboration with The Guardian and Gucci, Doc Society, TFI, Ford Foundation, Fork Films and the BFI.
Director: Nancy Schwartzman
Producers: Nancy Schwartzman, Steven Lake, Jessica Devaney, Jennifer Fox, Maxyne Franklin
Editor: Christopher White
Original Music: Nima Fakhrara
Executive Producers: Geralyn Dreyfous, Barbara Dobkin, Chandra Jessee, Patty Quillin, Regina K. Scully
Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan, Chris White
Co-Executive Producers: Abigail Disney, Gini Reticker
Impact Producer: Eliza Licht
Consulting Producer: Brenda Coughlin