Women of Cambridge launches documentary to record sexual assault testimonies

Juliette Bretan 5 February 2018

Women of Cambridge has launched a new project aiming to record and detail the real-life experiences of sexual assault faced by women in Cambridge.

The aim of the project is to shed light on the parts of women’s experiences such as objectification and sexual harassment, both of which women are often told to accept as an inevitable part of daily life and which form an undercurrent running through their lives. Furthermore, in voicing the experiences of women in Cambridge, the project hopes to reveal the human factor behind the spread of such instances, usually made to feel ‘invisible’ as individuals when reduced to statistics.

‘Up Close and Personal’, the title of the documentary, will be a short film which aims to shed light on ‘these stories which have been swept under the carpet time and again’. The artistic project will use the editing techniques of the French Wave, known for its preference for the ‘male gaze’, with the aim of replacing the ‘victim video’ with a vibrant and diverse portrayal of all the women of Cambridge and their real-life stories.  

In a statement to TCS, Alice Sherwood, the project's director, said:

"Up Close and Personal’ will be a bold and fresh piece of film documenting the real-life experiences of sexual harassment and objectification of female and non-binary Cambridge students. Whilst the stories told can have taken place at any point throughout a person’s life, the all-female technical team behind this important project has come together with the aim of using our university as a sample to prove the widespread and commonplace nature of such experiences. As Director of this project, it was overwhelming when the call for team applications was sent out and almost three times as many needed applicants responded, the vast-majority of which were women from all corners of the university. Their messages spoke fiercely of how important they considered such a collective of voices to be, and how badly they wanted to be part of it. Brought together by our own personal histories and our desire to create a film which combats the still more degrading “victim video”, we are looking for more contributors to help realize our vision. It will be artistic and empowering; a short film made by and for a community which will simply no longer make room for harassment’s intrusive presence in its life."

Women of Cambridge is looking for women to contact them with personal testimonies for their ‘hard-hitting’ project. The group’s Facebook page wants to hear from women who have been made to feel ‘less than a person, wherever it was and whether through words or actions’. The group is happy to receive testimonies via email or in person, with the ability to disclose ‘as much or as little as you want’, with the option of being filmed or included under condition of anonymity. The group has underlined that all contributions are important and very much welcome. The group have a Facebook page, and their email address is: womenofcambridge@gmail.com.