By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer and JP Graham | Reporter
The movie documentary “Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution,” which debuted on April 22, 2017, at the Newport Beach Film Festival, will have a free screening and panel discussion at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Waco Hippodrome. Directed by Benjamin Nolot, “Liberated” is a story about the unraveling of masculinity and femininity in today’s culture, especially regarding the sex culture young adults experience. The documentary answers the question of how culture affects the sexual interactions college-aged adults have and the violence that comes with sexual relationships.
Dr. Sarah Jane Murray, associate professor in Baylor’s honors college, is the executive producer, and Morgan Perry, producer with Exodus Cry, is the film’s producer.
Murray said the process began in 2006 with the idea of bringing light to human trafficking and sex culture in current society.
The documentary was motivated by the raw reactions both Murray and Perry had to the sex culture within the ages of 18-30 at Panama City Beach, which compelled them to investigate further, Murray said. They returned the next year to film the truth behind the culture.
Both Perry and Murray felt compelled to highlight the dangers behind the culture of sexual freedom and within Generation Z. They said the goal was to point the camera at the truth behind what was really going on.
“We had no idea that were going to be lifting back the veil on what was going to give us insight of this incredible swell of sexual assault and sexual violation in America,” Murray said.
Murray feels the timing of the movie is important because it reflects the #MeToo and the It’sOnUS movements as well as an image of this culture.
“You can see in the film the journalists saying, ‘How could this happen and where did this come from?’ and we happened to be there,” Murray said. “We believe that it was important enough toward our integrity as storytellers to shed light on what was happening and to hopefully provide an anecdote to motivate and inspire people to think about choosing a different path.”
The movie encourages the idea that young adults should not only be aware of their surroundings but also conceptualize the dangers and factors of the “Sexual Revolution” and gives the realistic image of why Liberated was created.
“If you’ve ever been to a dance club and someone turns the lights on, and it kind of kills the mood … it can be a real party foul moment,” Perry said. “That’s what we tried to do with the film … turn the lights on and see if that’s something they still want to be involved in.”
Elizabeth Wellinghoff, a training and prevention specialist in Baylor’s Title IX Department, said the documentary was a shock to the system for some, showcased the harsh realities in current day hookup culture and yet is considered an accurate representation.
“I watched the first half of the film and it can be pretty shocking, you know, stark, in your face, blunt, all those things, even disheartening, right?” Wellinghoff said. “In other ways, it was, ‘Wow, I feel like this is a real accurate depiction.’”
The documentary touches on many different aspects of the “Sexual Revolution” in Generation Z and the key factors that create current hookup culture, such as drugs and alcohol.
Wellinghoff said she believes the movie offers Baylor students a visual representation of the consequences that hookup culture creates. She hopes the sobering reality of the documentary will help students develop their own voice.
“There is another option,” Wellinghoff said. “[And] I’m really excited to hear too what Baylor students specifically have to say about, ‘Yeah, there’s another way that you can live your life and that you do have that choice and how the culture and what you’re inundated and living around, how that affects you and how you behave.”
The lengthy process, according to Murray, has been a smooth one because Baylor supported her work.
“Baylor has championed this screening from the beginning,” Murray said.
The documentary also showcases lessons on prevention and safety concerning sexual violence and relationships. Wellinghoff placed herself in a student’s shoes and presented questions that should be asked during the screening of the documentary.
“And so that again is my hope when we’re looking at not only the film screening but also just our prevention efforts in general, there’s a lot of what not to do, right?” Wellinghoff said. “How do you have a healthy relationship? What would be a healthy sex life? How are you respecting that other person in all of those aspects? And so that’s my hope for not only this screening that we can bring to the table for students but also just our prevention efforts in general.”
Nolot and the “Liberated” documentary continue their tour Thursday at the University of Texas and will make their London debut April 21.