'Roll Red Roll' by Nancy Schwartzman examines the high-profile 2012 high-school rape case

By Laura Barcella
March 22, 2019 01:01 PM
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“I wanted to make a film about sexual assault that doesn’t put the burden on victims,” says Nancy Schwartzman, the director of Roll Red Roll, a new documentary that revisits the shocking high-school rape case that shook the town of Steubenville, Ohio, in 2012. “So often in our culture the burden hinges on the victim. She has to come forward, give her name, and then we decide whether we believe her or not.”

Thanks to the breadth of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, everyday Americans are becoming more aware of the prevalence of sexual violence. And though it’s often women coming forward to share their painful experiences with sexual assault, harassment, and more, Schwartzman claims she did not make Roll Red Roll for them.

In fact, she says, she created the film with men in mind. “This is a tough movie for women. I didn’t design it for them,” Schwartzman says. “I want people to walk away hurt and angry, and turn that into action. I want men and boys to see this movie and say ‘Oh my god, I never want it to get this bad on my team or in my school.’”

Schwartzman’s film, currently in limited release, does a deep — and deeply unsettling — dive into the much publicized 2012 rape of a 16-year-old “Jane Doe” by members of the revered Steubenville Big Red high school football team.

WATCH: Documentary Revisits 2012 High School Football Rape: ‘I Want People to Walk Away Hurt and Angry’

The crimes occurred at a party, where two young men, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, sexually assaulted the intoxicated victim, who did not remember what happened. Other teenagers snapped an array of horrifying photos and videos of the crime, laughing and joking about what had occurred (“You don’t need any foreplay with a dead girl,” one boy laughed). They later shared these images, plus more quips and commentary about the incident, on social media and in text messages.

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