New film tackles the burning issue of date rape

Sexual violence affects thousands of South Africans. “Cut-Out Girls’ is the story of how the lives of six young women are forever altered by the actions of two aspiring sportsmen.

The scourge of gender-based violence has dominated South Africa’s headlines following a spate of brutal rapes and murders that have seen the country mourn the loss of several young women. Horrendous tales of girls and women going missing and then being found dead make the rounds on social media daily. But the women of this country have found their voice. They have rallied and protested around the country in unprecedented numbers and for once they have been heard, as even the President was forced to address the problem.

That’s what makes ‘Cut-Out Girls’, the new film by Nicola Hanekom so topical. It is undoubtedly part of the conversation since it boldly tackles the issue of date rape. It’s the story of how six young women’s lives are altered by the actions of two aspiring sportsmen.

Kevin and Mike are young men trying to get ahead in the competitive world of tennis. When one of them discovers a dangerous key that can unlock their potential, things get out of hand. Their worlds become intertwined and spiral out of control. A small series of seemingly insignificant moments weave together with devastating consequences. The film delves deep into the notion that in every moment a choice exists.

“The frightening truth is that we all can turn into monsters, from ‘us’ into ‘them’. The trick, the prayer, the hope is that we won’t,” says Hanekom. “With rape and violence against women endemic in South Africa, ‘Cut-Out Girls’ is inspired by the #MeToo and #AmINext movements and is aimed at creating social change.”

The film brings the discussion of date rape to the foreground. When people think of rape, they might picture a stranger jumping out of a shadows and attacking someone. But in reality, many people who are raped know the person who attacked them. This is known as date rape — forced sex that can happen on a date but also somewhere like a party with someone the victim may know, like, or even be interested in.

“The terrible reality is that rape survivors experience higher than average levels of depression and stress disorders, with sexual assault taking its toll at the time it occurs and for decades to come,” Hanekom says. ”We need to talk about the shame, humiliation, anxiety, changes in self-perception, and fear that can follow survivors for years after an assault.”

Hanekom says she wants to tell stories that make a difference and make films that lead to positive change. “I am fascinated by how we all carry the potential for evil inside us, how we can incrementally shift and become unrecognisable to ourselves. We are what we think, say and do. Ultimately, our acts define us. But we can heal. We are not the sum total of what was done to us. We are the beauty we choose to find inside ourselves.”

‘Cut-Out Girls’ stars Joel Rosenblatt, Cody Mountain, Keziah Gabriel, Chloe Papademetriou, Meghan Oberholzer, Ashleigh van der Hoven and Atlanta Johnson.

The story is loosely based on a successful stage play by Hanekom, that deals with the uneasy subject of date rape and the effect that it has on both survivors and perpetrators.

The filming of ‘Cut-Out Girls’ was funded in part by an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. The film was shot in and around Cape Town in 2017. A portion of the proceeds of the film will go to the non-profit organisation Rape Crisis.

The film is produced by Act Cape Town Productions, in association with Haas & Kaas.

‘Cut-Out Girls’ is distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution. It releases nationwide on 22 November 2019.

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