Film Review: Out in the Night – mejicanluis

out in the night

Out in the Night (2014)

 

Cast: Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson

Director: Blair Doroshwalther

 

Out in the Night is an attention-grabbing documentary that follows four African-American lesbian women whose lives changed after being arrested for assaulting a man who was sexually and physically harassing them on the streets of New York City. Though this was an act of self-defense, the judge failed to examine the evidence that proved them innocent and sentenced them to jail. The movie follows their struggle to cope with the fact that they are going to jail even though they only acted in self-defense.

Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson and their three friends were out in New York’s West Village looking for a place to let loose and have fun. They walked by an African-American man who was attracted to Renata. When she told the man that she was a lesbian, he began following them and yelling threats, especially heterosexist remarks by yelling things such as “I’ll f*** you straight.” He then charged at them. Being from the dangerous streets of Newark, New Jersey, they begin fighting back. Renata then pulled out a knife and stabs him in the abdomen. The police were contacted and arrested the women for “gang assault”. The other three pleaded guilty in order to have their sentences lowered but Renata, Venice, Terrain and Patreese believed that they were innocent and felt that they would be released. That was not the case.

Doroshwalther does an amazing job portraying homophobia and sexism that was shown to these women, especially when they were sent to court. When portraying what happened during the prosecution, she shows the audience the evidence that would prove them innocent, but the judge, a white man, and the jury, also white, saw otherwise leading to all four of them going to jail for almost a decade. The trial was an example of hegemony due to the lack of people of colour during the trial. The only people who weren’t white during the trial were the four women and their family members. The media took the story and turned it into propaganda against them by calling them a “lesbian wolf pack” or “killer lesbians” or even “gang violence. Victoria Law (2014) states that the intersection of their race and gender led to the conclusion that since they were a group of black women, they were part of a gang. They racialized these women by coming to these conclusions, which led to them acquiring longer sentences. After many years in prison, further evidence was provided and they were released from prison, Renata serving the longest sentence.

out in the night 2

One scene that stood out the most while viewing the film is when all of the evidence is shown to the audience, especially a picture that shows the man’s body after surgery. In the picture, you can see a large scar that was sutured and a small abrasion. The small abrasion was the knife wound while the large scar was from a stomach ulcer that was found while examining his body. With evidence that clear, it was thought that they would be released but when the lawyer pointed it out to the judge, he responded by saying that he already knew that the larger abrasion was from a previous operation that had nothing to do with the knife wound (Law). This disgusted me beyond belief because this is another example of hegemony where the white judge who has all the power ignored true evidence and still allowed the women to go to jail. This man sickened me and made me wonder how he continued to be allowed to work as a judge.

I personally enjoyed attending Reelout Festival because it opened the doors to a newer type of cinema. If I had not attended the festival, I would have never heard of the discrimination that these women faced. I believe that this movie was a perfect choice for the festival because it portrays how people today are still being discriminated and how there are still people with power who still believe that they have some sort of supremacy over others. I believe that the organizers of Reelout chose this film for that exact reason. I would have never encountered this film on my own without the festival. I would attend this festival again and strongly recommend both the festival and the film to others.

LA Film Festival (2014) – Out in the Night Trailer – Lesbian Documentary HD. Perf. Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson. 2014. Film.

Law, Victoria. “New Documentary “Out in the Night” Asks: Who Has the Right to Self Defense?” Bitch Media. 11 June 2014. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://bitchmagazine.org/post/out-in-the-night-challenges-viewers-to-consider-who-has-the-right-to-self-defense&gt;.

Out in the Night. 2014.

Out in the Night – Slide 0. 2014.

mejicanluis

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8 thoughts on “Film Review: Out in the Night – mejicanluis

  1. Your review did a great job of noting the important critical aspects of the film. Noting the lack of colored and queer people in the jury, and how the judge was a white male, demonstrates the hierarchies that still exist in our society. You analyse and critical understanding of the producers choice to depict the courtroom in this way is appreciated. Furthermore, your comment about the current existence of this kind of discrimination is important as well. This makes me wonder to what extent this type of discrimination truly does occur in our modern society, or whether the film exaggerated the discrimination? Excellent critical analyse and review of the festival in general. -rayofsunshine

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    1. I agree with you, I too also wonder whether the film exaggerated the discrimination or not. But overall, this was one of the major issues that the movie portrayed which I believed was something I should try to illustrate to the readers of this review in order to try to get the word out of such discrimination that continues to exist today, Thank you for the positive response and I hope you have time to see this film and be as inspired as me 🙂
      -mejicanluis

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  2. Fantastic Review. I think you did a great job highlighting the gender related issues present throughout out the film. The importance of intersectionality in society could not be more clearly show in this film. I agree that hegemony was completely present during the trial but I also believed that it was specifically due to patriarchy and white privilege as the judge was a white, male that asserted his power over the coloured females. I also wonder how such a sinister and vile person could have power in the justice system, it makes me worried about how many other people like him are controlling other sectors (political, education etc.). You have excellently anaylsed the social norms and beliefs that are ever present in our society.
    -secretlybatman

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    1. I agree with you, I too was feeling disgusted when i found out that he continued to have power, especially in something as important in society that can alter someone’s life! And I like you input about patriarchy. I did not really think about it like that until I read your comment and I agree with you that he did show his power over the women. Thanks for the nice response and I hope that you can get the chance to see this movie 😀
      -mejicanluis

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  3. Really great review! From what I’m reading about this film I think another important intersection is the womens race and their sexuality. I feel it is stereotyped that lesbian woman are more “manly” and so them committing a violent act is falsely justified by the fact that these woman would “act like men” and fight like that. This whole ordeal sounds extremely disheartening and sad. I’m really happy to of gotten some insight into this issue. – NoSpeakAfricano

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    1. I agree with you that the women’s race and sexuality intersect becoming stereotyped as being more manly. It is also good to hear that I was able to provide some insight on this issue and hope that you will try to spread the news on this issue as i have tried
      -mejicanluis

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  4. I think your review did a fabulous job at not just talking about that oppression that the women faced on a singular scale. You brought up the inequity and hegemony present in the trial proceedings which I believe was extremely important to note because it showed just how institutionalized oppressive systems are in our society. People do not just face discrimination at the hands of regular individuals, but also through the legal system that is designed to keep them safe. This film outlines a very clear, present problem that is failing to be addressed in this day and age. A lot of connections can be made where considering what you have outlined in your review of this film and what has been happening in recent months around the globe. Great review!

    – masalaCHICKen

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    1. Thanks you for the positive response! My main goal was to retell the story of how they were all oppressed in the courtroom and how the justice system handled these issues poorly so it is good to know that I achieved my goal and to know that there are other people who agree with me. This is a current issue that should be addressed! I hope you get as inspired as I was to fix this issue and hope you can watch this film and enjoy as much as I did 😀
      -mejicanluis

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