Jennifer Baumgardner’s ‘It Was Rape’ screens Saturday at the FFF

It Was Rape, a documentary by Jennifer Baumgardner
Showing at the Fargo Film Festival
Saturday, March 9, 10:30 a.m., the Fargo Theatre

A 16-year-old unconscious girl who was raped at a series of alcohol-fueled parties in Ohio last summer.

A 17-year-old girl in South Africa, raped by three men who slit her stomach open and left her for dead.

A 19-year-old who says her Air Force training instructor raped her, told her it was fun, threw her clothes at her and demanded she take a shower.

A 7-year-old girl in New Delhi, raped at the school she attended.

These cases, too many to count, surely shock and disgust. But Fargo native Jennifer Baumgardner has a much more personal connection to the horrifying phenomenon of sexual assault. When Jennifer was just 12 years old, her sister was raped.

“As the years went on, we learned more and evolved and were able to understand what had happened to my sister and how to better support her,” Baumgardner said. “We also learned more about how this event affected the rest of us in the family.”

Now living in New York and working as a feminist writer, activist and lecturer, Baumgardner is aiming to further education of the subject and help in ending sexual violence in its many forms.

Baumgardner will be in Fargo for a screening of her documentary, It Was Rape, at the Fargo Film Festival this weekend. She has been working on the project off and on for four years, starting the principle interviews in 2008 and, in between, having her second child, getting married, moving twice, and writing two books.

It Was Rape tells the story of eight women and their experiences with sexual assault. It’s meant to raise consciousness on the still-taboo topic, one that Baumgardner says impacts nearly everyone. She says Fargo-Moorhead, like every community, has a lot of people who have directly experienced sexual assault or at least are close to someone who has been raped.

“Fargo is a place that I love and care. It has shaped me,” Baumgardner said. “My goal with the film is to provide an opportunity for any community to come together and explore how we can have a little more compassion for victims and insight about rape.”

And while the topic is not a light one, she says the film isn’t depressing. “The film actually has lots of moments of humor. It’s not this big bummer to go see it,” Baumgardner said.

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