War Zone

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

As many women who've strolled down city streets can attest, it's a jungle out there. A jungle full of male predators who catcall, wolf-whistle, wag their tongues, kiss the air and hurl endearments like "Hey, baby," or "Give it up, freak." Filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West's intriguing 76-minute video essay not only addresses the problem of what she terms "street...read more

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As many women who've strolled down city streets can attest, it's a jungle out there. A jungle full of male predators who catcall, wolf-whistle, wag their tongues, kiss the air and hurl endearments like "Hey, baby," or "Give it up, freak." Filmmaker Maggie

Hadleigh-West's intriguing 76-minute video essay not only addresses the problem of what she terms "street abuse" but does something about it. Dressed in a black, sleeveless leotard and skirt, and armed with a Palmcorder and microphone, Hadleigh-West confronts the men who hiss, leer and verbally

assault women. Realizing the power of the camera, she redirects the aggression women deal with regularly, pointing the lens at the aggressors and asking them to repeat their words and explain them. The responses are consistent and banal: Most men don't see the harm, and think their remarks should

be taken as compliments; others hope their advances will somehow lead to sex. More disturbingly, some fully understand the hostility, invasiveness and implied threat of what they're doing. Over the course of five weeks, Hadleigh-West captured more than 1,000 street abusers in the act, 53 of whom

appear in the film. But rather than offering statistics and talking heads, her film is highly subjective and deeply personal: It is, after all, about how such behavior makes women feel. Hadleigh-West sometimes goes too far: She includes footage of street people who are clearly mentally ill, and

ends her film with a harrowing recording of a 911 call from a woman who's being assaulted in her home. Such tactics leave Hadleigh-West vulnerable to being written off -- unfairly -- as hysterical, even though she raises a number of points directly linked to such larger cultural issues as safety,

sexual violence and the quality of women's lives. And if Hadleigh-West comes off as strident, aggression is the name of this most dangerous game.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: As many women who've strolled down city streets can attest, it's a jungle out there. A jungle full of male predators who catcall, wolf-whistle, wag their tongues, kiss the air and hurl endearments like "Hey, baby," or "Give it up, freak." Filmmaker Maggie… (more)
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