Independent Lens “Hazing”

Monday, Sept. 12 at 9 p.m.

Building on years of countless hazing-related tragedies and grappling with his own experiences, the acclaimed Filmmaker Byron Hurt explores the function, politics, and consequences of pledging rituals at universities and colleges across the U.S. Through a series of intimate interviews with victims’ families, survivors, and his fellow fraternity brothers, Hurt and his subjects reflect on the realities of hazing, and question the purpose of these ongoing rite-of-passage rituals in sororities, fraternities, and other groups.

Through a look at the history of hazing and deeply personal narratives of those affected by the rituals, the film tackles topics of violence, sexual degradation, binge drinking, institutional coverups, and debased notions of manhood. Interviews with violence-prevention experts and campus professional staff provide broader cultural context for these practices and their association with Greek-letter organizations. Hurt also discusses victim-blaming narratives, offering insight into the psychology of belonging, insecurity, and cycles of abuse which largely contribute to hazing culture. “Hazing” takes a look inward as well, as Hurt and many of the film’s subjects find themselves conflicted with the joys of Greek culture while also admitting to the perils and damaging effects of pledging practices.

“When you’re sworn to secrecy, it’s a betrayal to reveal the painful experiences you endured in allegiance to your organization,” said Hurt. “As I came to terms with my role in this culture, I was called to make this film. I am extremely grateful to the brave individuals who shared their stories with the goal to spark lasting change on college campuses and prevent future tragedies.”

Hurt speaks with numerous participants in the film including Marc Lamont Hill, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; James Vivenzio, hazing survivor and whistleblower; Brent McClanahan II, hazing survivor who sustained permanent injuries; and Reverend Patricia StrongFargas, founder of Mother’s Against Hazing whose daughter Kristin High drowned during a midnight hazing ritual.

“‘Hazing’ offers a nuanced perspective on the forces contributing to the hazing epidemic,” said Lois Vossen, executive producer of INDEPENDENT LENS. “We are proud to bring awareness to these practices and the larger issues of race, gender, identity, alienation, and belonging that are plaguing America’s campuses.”

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