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‘Private Violence’ to premiere at Sundance Film Festival

SUBMITTED PHOTO
From left, Deanna Walters of West Jefferson, a domestic violence survivor, and A Safe Home for Everyone case manager Stacy Cox plan to travel to Park City, Utah, in January to attend the Sundance Film Festival and view the world premiere of ‘Private Violence,’ a documentary which features Walters’ fight for justice.




Originally published: Dec. 24, 2013
Last modified: Dec. 26, 2013

Heather Samudio

A new documentary featuring the story of an Ashe County domestic violence survivor and her case worker has been accepted to the Sundance Film Festival and will premiere in January 2014 in the festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition in Park City, Utah.

The film, “Private Violence,” tackles the myths and misconceptions about domestic violence and tells the story of domestic violence survivor Deanna Walters of West Jefferson and one of her biggest supporters, A Safe Home for Everyone case manager Stacy Cox.

Both Walters and Cox are planning to attend the premiere next month.

The feature-length film begins with Walters’ story, just before her abuser’s case became federal, and follows her as she endures the trial and sentencing of her ex-husband and works to move past the ordeal.

Parts of the documentary were filmed in Creston, West Jefferson, at the Ashe County Courthouse, Ashe County Park and on Mount Jefferson.

In regards to the film, Walters said, “I really hope that it can help others who may be in a similar situation.”

The results of what can be accomplished and overcome with the support of an advocate can be seen in the film.

“I think the film is really powerful,” Cox said. “As far as the film being at the Sundance Festival, I think it is an excellent opportunity to make an impact on the effects and lethality of domestic violence and to show the strength of the human spirit.”

“The film shows Deanna’s transformation, beginning as a victim and coming out as a survivor and a victor,” she said. “I think it helps bring the problem to the forefront. There is a shortage of honest representations of domestic violence and the lives it affects. This film is raw, honest and allows viewers to not only see the struggles that a survivor endures, but they are drawn in as part of Deanna’s cheering squad as she triumphs over obstacles to become a stronger woman than she ever knew was possible.”

Cox said many victims, once they regain their strength, go on to become advocates or supporters of others who have gone through the same situations.

Walters is included among that number. She now works alongside Cox, doing presentations and speaking out against domestic violence and informing audiences of the importance of a victim’s advocate.

She is attending Appalachian State University and plans to graduate in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She is pursuing a career as a victim specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Cox and Walters gave a presentation at the biannual North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence  meeting and at the federal domestic violence conference in Greensboro in 2011. They have also been asked to submit a proposal for a possible presentation to the Ohio Attorney General’s Conference in May 2014.

“I believe it is vital for people to realize how important it is for a domestic violence victim to have an advocate,” Cox said. “Advocates can assist in finding resources and ask the questions that need to be asked.”

Cox played a major role in Walters’ case, pushing for it to become a federal case and seeing success when the FBI picked up the case. The results of her efforts are included as part of the documentary.

“For me, it has been a positive experience,” Cox said. “From the beginning, I learned a lot about myself and about working with all the different agencies. I was able to work with agencies I may have otherwise never been able to and learn how the legal system works on a higher level.

“We all have a calling in life, and if you answer your calling, amazing things can be accomplished,” she said.

Cox said she believes the film shows that and shows the potential that survivors have. She said the film also breaks myths that survivors are weak and not intelligent.

“It is important to educate the public and show the strength of the human spirit,” Cox said. “It takes support to get through domestic violence, and the support is available. There isn’t always a quick fix. It takes time, but we’re here and we’re not going to give up on them.”

Cox and Walters had the opportunity to see the film at a domestic violence conference they attended in Raleigh, but it wasn’t completely finished at that time.

When they travel to the Sundance Festival in January with producers Cynthia Hill and Kit Gruelle, Walters and Cox will have dinner with the film crew, attend the premiere party and watch the world premiere of the documentary.

The documentary is directed and produced by Cynthia Hill with her husband, Rex Miller, as cinematographer. Kit Gruelle, a domestic violence activist, educator and film producer, also works on the film, bringing Walters’ story to life on the screen and introducing viewers to other survivors of domestic violence.

Hill also produces and directs the nationally broadcast cooking show, “A Chef’s Life,” which airs on PBS. Her husband is also director of photography on that project, as well.

For more information about the film or to view the trailer, visit http://www.privateviolence.com. For more information about the Sundance Film Festival, visit http://www.sundance.org/.

Victims of domestic violence can get help by contacting A Safe Home for Everyone at (336) 982-8851.
 
For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.