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Stars of ‘Private Violence recollect trip to Sundance Film Festival

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From left, Rex Miller, Cynthia Hill, Jean Kilpatrick, George McClane, Kit Gruelle, Stacy Cox, Deanna Walters at the premiere of ‘Private Violence’ at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19.

Originally published: Jan. 30
Last modified: Jan. 30

Adam Orr

resh off their trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, earlier this month the local stars of an documentary shared their experiences with the Ashe Mountain Times.

“It was so exciting that I don’t really know how to put it into words,” Deanna Walters said on Jan. 28. “There were a lot of interviews, and we got to meet so many other domestic violence advocates, which was great.”

Filmed throughout locations in Ashe County, ‘Private Violence,’ features Walters, a domestic violence survivor and her supporter and case manager Stacy Cox.

The film tackles the myths and misconceptions surrounding domestic violence, Cox said, and follows Walters’ story, just before her husband’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.

“The documentary is about the hope and strength of the human spirit,” Cox said in a January interview. “It helps break down the stereotype that survivors are ‘weak, uneducated, or accepting of the abuse.”

The film is an opportunity to allow the public “a very intimate view into the life of a survivor as she transforms from victim to victor; proof that battered women are indeed very strong, intelligent individuals,” Cox said.

Portions of the documentary were aired by producer and creator Kit Gruelle, Cynthia Hill and Rebecca Cerese as early as May 24, 2012, at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence Biennial Conference.

The team announced in late December that the documentary would premiere at the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition in Park City, Utah. in January.

Walters and Cox said Sundance was the first chance they had to view the documentary in its entirety.

On Jan. 18, Cox said she and Walters attending the FilmL.A., Inc. Filmmaker brunch at the Riverhorse in Park City. On Jan. 19, they attended the Chicken and Egg Pictures Party and later celebrated with the HBO Documentary Films crew.

Cox said the HBO party was focused on the films “Captivated, The Trials of Pamela Smart,” “The Case Against 8,” “Private Violence,” and “Remembering the Artist Robert De Niro.”

“We actually saw two showings of the documentary,” Cox said. “One at the HBO premiere, but the following day we had a viewing in Salt Lake City with a lot of domestic violence advocates.”

Each showing was following by a question-and-answer period, Cox said.

“My favorite was the talk after the Monday show,” Cox said. “So many folks came up to us and told us they were thankful for getting the word out there. That was a blessing and it was very validating for the work we’ve done.”

Cox and Walters also gave interviews about the documentary and its background to a group of teen bloggers, a touching moment for Walters.

“It was just a different kind of interview,” Walters said. “And I really enjoyed that. To be able to reach out and speak to young people about domestic violence and what to look for, that’s important to me.”

In the years since her terrifying ordeal, Walters said it’s become much easier to talk about her experience.

“It has become easier, and today I’d say it’s not really difficult,” Walters said.

Cox said watching that progression in Walters has been the most rewarding part of the journey for her.

“You can just see Deanna evolve throughout the film, from a quiet, shy, timid victim – someone who had a very hard time telling her story – to the end where she is happy and in college and moving forward with her life,” Cox said. “Watching Deanna at Sundance, everybody wanting to meet her and ask her about her story, watching that was very neat for me.”

Walters said her favorite part of the trip was celebrating Cox’s 40th birthday with her during the festival on Jan. 19.

“It was really fun to do that and the HBO and Private Violence crew all helped to celebrate her birthday,” Walters said. “On Sunday morning, (Gruelle) announced that it was Stacy’s birthday at the premiere and Stacy got a standing ovation and cheers. It was really special to celebrate with her. Her 40th birthday is one that she will never forget.”

Cox said it’s vital to recognize that domestic abuse comes in many shapes and forms, including emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. For more information or to help, call 982-8851 or the crisis line at 246-5430.
For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.