"LABYRINTH" SHARES WOMEN'S STORIES TO INCREASE CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR ACTIONS
"Labyrinth" shares seventeen diverse women's experiences with misogyny, sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace, on the street, at bars and at night. Not only does the film explain these women's individual experiences, but it also dives deeper by sharing how they dealt with the aftermath of these events, how their experiences continue to affect their lives and how, in their opinion, we can move forward in creating a change so that women do not have to live in fear. "'Labyrinth' is a metaphor for how our society is stuck in a culture with a staggering number of sexual assault and violence accounts," says Malen. "I was shocked by how similar each participant's story was about feeling unsafe at school, work or just walking down the street. Everyone, especially young men, should take responsibility to recognize the serious problems that we should no longer tolerate. It's important for us to spread their stories and enforce the message that we all should make different and better choices for the future and be more consciously aware of these issues."
The film opens up with one participant saying, "We almost always say, 'What if that were your sister, daughter or mother?' We never say, 'What if that were you?'" Participants then courageously share the experiences they've had to endure, the situations they've had to get themselves out of, and the pain and fear that they continue to cope with. These seventeen women repeatedly expressed how they wished their situations never happened at all or how they could've been handled differently, but that the need to keep their jobs and the fear of making others uncomfortable forced them to push their own feelings away and learn to deal with it without seeking help. "After having conversations with these women and reflecting on the impact of their stories, I quickly understood that we don't always see the things that others do," says Andre Holland '19. "Looking at these women and hearing their stories as a third party helped me recognize the wrongdoing that continues in our world." As the film progresses, some women share how they try to protect themselves on a daily basis from being harassed or approached on their way home, when they go out at night or even running simple errands like going to the grocery store. Participants' examples included tucking their hair in a hood or a hat to make themselves look masculine, walking at a fast pace, always carrying mace in their pockets, and wearing headphones but not playing music so that they look distracted but can hear everything going on around them. Others shared how their PTSD from their assault or harassment experiences has kept them homebound or in fear of being left alone. "This is not a woman's problem, it's a man's problem and it's their job to fix it, not ours," says one participant.
"We live in a pretty broken world," says Colin. "As a teenage boy, it's hard to hear that women have these constant fears that burden them. Keeping what I've learned from this experience in mind, I now know that I do affect how other people feel and it's important that I take responsibility for my actions and the conscious decisions I make regarding what I do or say." At the end of the film, each participant finishes the sentence, "We get out of this by...," sharing how they think society can work together to find a way out of the labyrinth. Some of the responses included, "We get out of this by listening, by recognizing women and girls' humanity and teaching boys to do the same, and by taking responsibility for our actions," "We get out of this by raising our sons like daughters and our daughters like sons in the sense that women can grow up with as much confidence as they want and that men can grow up with more sensitivity," "We get out of this by fighting every single day, every day of the year, 24 hours a day for all women who exist," and "We get out of this by acknowledging that the labyrinth exists and that it's man-made."
"In mythology, a labyrinth usually always houses a monster within it. This is analogous to these women's experiences, feeling trapped and mentally stuck in a maze (their life) with a monster (their assault experiences) and not knowing of a way out," says Brendan. "We get out of this labyrinth starting with how we teach our youth about these issues and raising them to be more humane and understanding. We need to focus on how we should treat and interact with others on a daily basis, emphasize the importance of speaking up for others and completely put an end to jokes and inappropriate comments and instead be more kind to one another."
Since "Labyrinth" premiered at Tower City Cinemas on Thursday, March 28, the film and its crew have been recognized across various platforms for the strong message they've communicated. "Labyrinth" was awarded the Best Ohio Short Film Award as part of the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival. On April 3, Malen Cuturic '19, Andre Holland '19 and Finn Norman '19, accompanied by Mr. Kuhar and Ms. Munnell, made a special appearance on NPR's The Sound of Ideas to discuss the production of "Labyrinth," the challenges they faced and the impact of the participants' stories on our young filmmakers. Click here to listen to our Edsmen on NPR's The Sound of Ideas. The "Labyrinth" film crew (photographed above) was also featured in The Plain Dealer on March 24. Click here to read The Plain Dealer's article on "Labyrinth." Congratulations to the St. Ed's filmmakers, directors and co-producers who worked together to create "Labyrinth" and share these women's stories in the hopes of empowering others to develop greater compassion toward women.