#SHORTVIEW: “Faith” by Eve Jeffery

> Synopsis:

Faith finished her work in Byron Bay, Australia, and then took a short walk home. And then, a man trapped, raped, and attempted to murder her.


MEN IN TIES AND WOMEN IN BIKINIS


> Why did you decide to make this documentary?

Before being a filmmaker, I was a journalist: I had been working in the local newspaper for quite some years, when Faith rang us up. The man who was the perpetrator of the rape was about to go out of jail, and she was very frightened – she came to me because I was the only female journalist at the newspaper,  I wrote a couple stories about her, and we became friends.

When I became a filmmaker, and I started to feel comfortable in that new medium, I thought back to Faith, and of how I always wanted to make something about her story. So I called her.

> Did you have any problems trying to convince Faith to tell her story?

She has always been very open to collaborate, and I’ve done a couple of stories about her, including this short film, but none tells the whole story, especially from her point of view. What happened to her at the time, and after the fact, was much broader than what I’ve been able to show – and if she talked to you, she would probably tell you a lot more of the story and in a different way than what I’ve been able to put into images or words.

> Speaking about the story itself, there’s a point where Faith narrates that she “was nothing” to the rapist. What do you think she meant?

There’s a point in the film in which therapist says he wants to have sex with Faith, and then immediately starts kissing her, as if this was some kind of romantic situation. He had this fantasy in his head, in which he was involved in some kind of “liaison” with a woman in the bushes, you know, like if she was going to say “yeah, let’s do it”, or something like that.

There’s something in the culture that he grew up in, and that so many other people grow up in, that made him think that the woman wouldn’t refuse to do this, that she’d be okay with this. He never thought of her as someone who might have her own will and opinion about things, and that’s the way in which so many people think about women, unfortunately.

> Where do you think this kind of mindset could come from?

I think it’s all around us – in our culture, in our media, in our advertising – and we don’t even notice it. Let me give you an example: every year there’s a carnival coming to the area that I live in, and they have this ride, a kind of “merry-go-round”, where kids go in and up and stuff. It had been coming for a few years, but this year it caused a lot of controversy, based on some of the images that it had.

On the walls of the ride, you know, there were displayed some pictures about men and women – and with the men, you had this kind of, football-outfitted, sport-clothed, successful idea of a man, men looking like heroes and at his side, you have images of women with a push-up bra, faceless and showing her boobs out, dressed in mini-skirts.

So, basically, that’s the problem, right there: that’s saying, unconsciously, that both are the same thing, and all of the kids are going around and getting this into their brains, whether they realize it or not. They’re getting fed with this idea that men are supposed to be good at what they do, while women are a thing with boobs on it. Men wear ties, and women wear bikinis.

> It’s important to note that the raping happens in a space that initially seemed welcoming. Do you think that rape can hide in unexpected places?

Unfortunately, I think that rape hides not only in those places that you wouldn’t imagine, such as public spaces, but also in those places where you’d expect to be safe. It happens in the home, it happens with children, parents, at daycares, with babysitters, at churches, etc. People are not careful at those places, and why should they be? These are safe places, or at the least, they should be. You should be safe in your home. You should be safe in your own bed, or with your husband, or your boyfriend, but sometimes you’re not.

> From the women you’ve spoken to – can one ever “move past” having been raped, so to speak?

It’s shocking to find out how many women have gone through this terrible thing, and all of the ones that I’ve spoken to have been strong enough to speak about it. From the women I know, and from what they’ve told me, I think it’s all about the way in which the recovery process may take place, this change from victim to survivor, that’s different to everybody, and that may take different lengths of time.

I think it’s a very individual process, and to be honest, there are some women who could, possibly, never manage to move past it. In the months following this short film, I found a comment about it on social media, and it was a woman, saying something on the lines of “I was raped, and now I can laugh it off”, and I thought, there’s no way that someone who was raped could write something like that – not in good faith. I think she was probably too damaged from that experience, and had to put up a strong face in order to avoid dealing with, but that’s not a healthy attitude to have.

> Do you think short films could be a good platform to fight against rape?

I think that victims – and I want to be clear, men can be victims too, not only women – need to be encouraged. They need to be nurtured, and taken care of. They need safe spaces and understanding, and that comes by teaching all of our children that everybody’s body is sacred – not only through short films, but also through fathers and mothers speaking to her sons and daughters, and girlfriends to their boyfriends, etc. We all need to look for each other and take actions against what’s wrong. It’s all about respect.


Eve defines herself as a “troublemaker”, and at the moment of the interview, she was preparing to release a feature film set against the coal seam gas companies trying to drill gas wells in the Australian Pilliga Forest.