While working on a very popular cruise line, it was not out of the ordinary to go back to our fellow entertainer’s cabin and hang out after performances. One night, after most had left, I stayed behind to hear even more stories from this legendary headliner. Shortly, afterwards the evening went from one of sharing stories to attempted rape. I’ll never forget how humiliated and embarrassed I felt. What did I do or say to invite such behavior. The answer? Absolutely nothing. The only thing I was guilty of was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and making the assumption I was safe with a fellow artist.
This story is not uncommon with many young, idealistic artists. There is always someone willing to take advantage of that gullible innocence. An innocence that is on full display in Deborah Kampmeir’s #MeToo #TimesUp thriller TAPE. Beginning with disturbing images of a young woman piercing her tongue, slashing wrists and cutting hair makes one unsure of where this narrative is going until you see her reading Titus Andronicus in the audition waiting room. You then realize that something is about to go down and you are not sure if you about to catch an updated version of Single White Female, a avant-garde thriller or just an oddly entertaining piece of cinema.
Based on the true events regarding one actress’s description of an encounter with an actual agent/manager and recent lawsuits filed by models describe similar behavior by the same man, a little-known player in the entertainment industry. He is 41, lives in Brooklyn, and is obviously having a moment. TAPE takes the audience into the room where questionable behavior goes unseen, finally answering the question “how could this kind of thing happen?” The moment-by-moment unveiling of how ambitious women are systematically coerced and taken advantage of is disturbing, uncomfortable to watch yet necessary. On the flip side the questions are often posed was it rape? It was congenital right? You agreed to have sex with him? Always so incredibly insulting in the grand scheme of things.
Kampmeier effectively captures the uncertainty of what is going on with Pearl consistently shooting in and out of focus representing the on and off again hesitation of Pearl deciding to cooperate or bounce. Watching Pearl go from completely confined to utterly vulnerable is heartbreaking to each and every audience member that will witness her coerced journey.
There performances of Annarosa Mud and Isabelle Fuhrman are so intricate, nuanced an mesmerizing that the memory of their cinematic experience will haunt you well after the credits have rolled
Originally scheduled to release in theaters on Friday, March 27th, TAPE will now be available at theatrical screening times, followed by online live panel discussions about the film and the topics it addresses, through Crowdcast. Daily screenings at 7pm EST will be followed by a panel conversation with different special guests every night from Now to Thursday April 9th. I was fortunate to join one intensely passionate panel on “How Film Criticism Has Been Affected By #MeToo” moderated by Melissa Silverstein along with other panelists that included Nikoleta Morales, Matt Fagerholm, and Rebecca Martin joined director Deborah Kampmeier and TAPE actress Annarosa Mudd. Viewers will be able to interact and ask questions with the panel via chat asking questions through the power of the shared experience. TAPE becomes available beginning April 10th on VOD platforms Amazon, iTunes, GooglePlay and Microsoft.