The film I AM EVIDENCE premiered on HBO last night, April 16, 2018, at 8pm. Called “searing” and “lucid” by the LA Times, the documentary revealed an epidemic of untested rape kits in the country’s police warehouses– hundreds of thousands of reported attacks that have gone without an investigation or arrest.
Across the US, at over 300 watch parties, communities tuned in to watch together. Throughout the movie, viewers were invited to share their reactions to the emotional film in real time through a custom response page or by SMS text vote. The word cloud they created captured the impact of the film as it was experienced.
The viewing parties were organized by Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization with a mission to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.”
The nonprofit organization was founded by actor Mariska Hargitay, who played Lieutenant Olivia Benson on the long-running NBC series Law & Order: SVU. Hargitay also produced I AM EVIDENCE, which won the audience award for Best Documentary Film at both the Provincetown and Traverse City Film Festivals.
Nation-wide watch parties connect with a live word cloud
Vaughn Bagley organized the nation-wide premier as Special Projects Manager at Joyful Heart Foundation. Bagley wanted a way to connect all the watch parties and enable them to share their reactions as if they were in one central location. She and her team decided to use a Poll Everywhere live word cloud to foster that connection. Participants appreciated the camaraderie of the live word cloud, some even finding hope in the shared sense of community.
It displayed that the way I felt and responded to the documentary was shared by so many others which makes me hopeful that together, we can fix this issue.
The watch parties are part of a wider call-to-action to address the significant injustice the backlog represents. The organizers offer suggestions for individuals to become involved in the ongoing efforts to stoke change.