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Film Review: “Roll Red Roll” (2018) ★★★★★


Every time I watch documentaries like “Roll Red Roll”, I feel so done with the injustice, neglect, constant abuse of power, and the never-ending double standards of one group of people that harasses one personality and the other group that chooses to remain a bystander. What the hell is going on with this world? What happened to those parents who seem to ignore the clear sign they’re raising a future criminal? The story occurring in this documentary is appalling, outrageous, and so painful to watch, I wish I never had to do it. Because it becomes more difficult to explain to a child that is growing in every home that life is beautiful and there’s nothing bad which will ever happen to him or her.

It was in 2012 when a young woman, Jane Doe, at a football party in Steubenville, Ohio finds herself raped by high school students. “What did they do with that girl?”, a young man whose voice you will hear asks another boy. They juggle and the laugh continues. Then the other you hear amusingly says, “She is so raped right now.” While the girl was unaware of her current situation and could not recollect properly what happened afterwards, the bone-chilling videos circulated across the social network suggests she was brutally molested by high-school football stars who felt so empowered and so entitled that they continue degrading her continuously without the slightest hint of shame.

The beginning of the documentary is enough to put the audience in such a state where it is difficult even to breathe. As you hold still, it takes us right to Ohio in August 2012, Steubenville. We start reading all the text messages of how Jane Doe, in complete disbelief, questions the images she receives in which high school football players whom she trusted literally assaulted her. As she has no memory of what happened and even worse, was not in a situation to object the horrendous sexual act on her, it was the videos and the text messages that not only suggest, but is proof that Jane Doe was sexually abused that night in a place called a family home.

“Roll Red Roll” is one of those documentaries that delivers an unapologetical gut-punch effect to ensure the frustration and anger the audience experiences will have a lasting effect. We do not question its importance. Its way of avoiding sugar-coating a crucial theme is undeniable. In the end, it all comes down to one family, the family of us, our neighbors, or those who we know. Watching this should be mandatory for anyone who does not understand what consequences rape, school bullying can bring, while we must erase the widely used term ’boys will be boys’ from the society that wants to have a healthy existence. Because with the boys like the ones you meet in “Roll Red Roll”, I’m not sure how far we can improve.

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