Out In The Night is a documentary, directed by Blair Dorosh-Walther, based on the true story about the New Jersey 4. This documentary highlights the intersectionality of the themes of gender, race, and sexuality. Recounting the story of four African-American women who were wrongfully convicted. The incident took place on a summer night in August, where Venice, Renata, Terrain, and Patreese were walking through the West Village. The village is known to be a significant neighbourhood for LGBTQ communities and described as a safe haven by these four women. As they walked passed the Independent Film Cinema, an older man, named Dwayne Buckle, sexually propositioned one of the four women. After declining his advances, Buckle shouted obscene and slanderous remarks in regards to their homosexuality and started to follow them. The four of them finally stopped to confront him, and a heated argument broke out. He spat on one of them and intensifying the verbal attack into a physical one. The fact that these women were convicted and sent to jail for three and a half to 11 years, for protecting their basic human rights is exceptionally unjust. They were defending themselves from an attacker who had threatened to sexually assault them, ripped hair from their scalps, and choked them.
One scene in the movie that was extremely shocking was at the end of the documentary. It is where they played a recording of the police officer’s conversation, right after they had been reports of a man being stabbed. They stated in the recording that the victim was not in fatal condition and that there was no blood at the scene. During the trial, newspapers shinned a negative light on the women and depicted the women as the attackers, rather than the victims. They were called the “Lesbian Wolf Pack” and headline on the tabloids all read this was “The Attack of the Lesbian Killers.” Racialization was also displayed in this film, as the women were called a gang by the press, solely based on their race. The four women had no previous criminal record, but were portrayed as the attackers in the tabloids. Another part of the documentary that was appalling was at the beginning of the film. They had shown a picture of the attackers stab wound, which looked extremely large, but in fact it was the scar from a surgery he had undergone. During the trial, they said that the wound the large wound was the he had gotten after being stabbed in the abdomen by Patreese. This is an example of how corrupt the justice system is, and how it can make the innocent look guilty and make turn victims into the attackers. These women went through such a horrid and unthinkable experience that changed their lives forever. Two of the women had a child, and and being taken away from their families, for just protecting themselves.
The director did an incredible job, illustrating the story and injustice these four women faced. This film opened my eyes to the cruel inequalities people face, because of something so simple, such as the colour of one’s skin, gender, or sexual orientation. During the film, Angela Davis, made a valid point, saying that things would have been different if four Caucasian women were sexually and physically attacked by a man. In relation to this film is Peggy McIntosh’s article called White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. In it she compares the male and white privileges to the female and other race privileges. For example she states in her article that, “41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me” (McIntosh 1988). Something that also stuck with me after watching this film was when Renata was interviewed. She said that she was ashamed of her story and how she was raped at the age of nine, because of how people would look at her. She said she could not defend herself then, and he ended up getting five years for and she got eight years, for trying to defend herself, from another predator.
Overall the documentary Out In The Night was a fascinating movie on the social construction of how one’s race, gender, class, and sexuality can put them at a disadvantage in today’s world, specifically the prejudicial legal system. I would recommend this film and this festival. My experience attending the Reelout Film Festival, at The Screening Room, was a great one. I thoroughly enjoyed the quaint theatre and the more personal experience of watching the film. The crowd was diverse in age, gender, and race and they all seemed very enthusiastic and eager about the festival and film.
McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.” White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. 1 Jan. 1988. Web. 7 Feb. 2015. <http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html>>.