‘The Rise of Eve’ is a deeply moving cri de coeur

Director L. Burner sets out to examine attitudes towards women throughout time, with particular attention to issues in the African-American community. With topics ranging from sexual assault to victim blaming to misogyny in media, The Rise of Eve opens up the discussion in order to start taking steps towards a safer world for women. Unfortunately, low production values (perhaps related, at least in part, to low budget) will frustrate Burner’s audience. (3/5)

Review by FF2 Intern Maiya Pascouche

The Rise of Eve starts out with a very clear trigger warning that the topics addressed and images displayed may be disturbing to viewers. This warning is needed. Director L. Burner is not afraid to shy away from startling imagery and intimate accounts of sexual assault.

Burner has a clear intention when it comes to this film: We must stop this excessive misogyny and violence against women. And her audience is clear, too. It’s the men in her community, particularly African American men and their continual aggression towards African American women. Now African American men are certainly not her only audience, but she uses the men in her community as interviewees and participants in focus groups as a frame for her conversation.

However, from the first 20 minutes of the film, you might think otherwise as you listen to numerous interviews with men discussing their thoughts on the words “hoe” (whore) and “THOT” (That Hoe Over There). The film is choppy, with poorly edited footage, audio, and even copious inserted stock photos. Burner splices in interviews with random men on the street who have little to no awareness of their own contribution to the misogyny around them. Nonetheless, the passion is there. Burner clearly believes in a fight against misogyny and female violence, and she’s working hard to push for that fight.

This ignorance may be Burner’s way of blatantly showing such men a mirror to themselves. Unfortunately, in an audience of, I believe, exclusively women in the screening we attended on opening day, I did not get that message. Instead, I was taken aback by the jumble of facts, poor editing quality, and overall disorganization of ideas within the film. Burner jumps from topic to topic, and though the narration is well-written, sensitive, and impassioned where necessary, the structure confused me and left me feeling intense frustration

There were many points in the film that could be moving, but that feel almost disrespectful. An example of this is Burner’s telling of the story of Janese Talton-Jackson, a woman shot and killed after dismissing a man’s advances. Under the voiceover narration of her story, we get an image of Talton-Jackson’s face, and a slow zoom into her eyes that lasts several minutes. Beyond this are continual reuses of stock images of beaten and threatened women. As a viewer, these moments tended to make me so uncomfortable that I had to look away. Sometimes exaggeration and stark imagery are necessary to make a message hit home, but in this case, to me, it felt more offensive than persuasive.

Notwithstanding limitations in budget and resources, Burner’s passion is upfront and center. Her film certainly has emotional power. Though there are some clear problems with execution and, in my opinion, with the selection of interviewees, Burner screams from the shared heart of her fellow women. Her attempt to shake her male counterparts awake to the undeniable abuse of women is commendable. I would love to see more of her work on what it is like to be a woman in our modern world, especially if she were to narrow and focus her ideas, rather than tackling a collection of experiences so unwieldy and disparate as that of The Rise of Eve.

Thank you L. Burner for your heart and support. As a woman, I am deeply moved by your passion and willingness to dedicate your life to changing the way women continue to be treated in their communities.

© Maiya Pascouche (7/25/18) FF2 Media

Top Photo: The guys at the barber shop.

Middle Photo: Role play.

Bottom Photo: Women speak their truth.

Photo Credits: L. Burner

Q: Does The Rise of Eve pass the Bechdel-Wallace test? 

YES!

There are multiple interviews with women and conversations between women about their shared experiences as women in our patriarchal world. A great example is a focus group of all women, where participants discuss their definitions of sexual assault.

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Comments

    • Robert Clark
    • August 5, 2018
    Reply

    Hey hey! Gay man here who was at the screening. While there were some technical issues with the editting, the choices of order were no problem for me. I really could sit through it and feel the full range of emotions because, for me, the cohesion was in the feeling, like long and short breaths. Although, I don’t date women, and certainly wouldn’t catcall, I still have straight male friends and would love to see them watch these flummoxed dudes try and sort through their contradictory thoughts on the subject. See what they have to say for themselves. I myself, had to sit through so much “training” about women while I was still in the closet. You wouldn’t believe how universal these “teachings” are, and many times coming from well-intentioned “good” men. The assault stories from these now powerful women is what really hit me DEEP in this film. I can’t really even find the words to take me through that viewing experience, but you just have to see for yourself. I’m praising these beautiful women and whether you’re from Uganda, Ukraine, or the good old US of A these stories are tragically universal and I’m glad someone is talking about them. Rise of Eve! She’s getting back up.

    • LB
    • August 5, 2018
    Reply

    While I appreciate the review I have to admit that there are parts that feel more like a mean tweet! This is definitely a rough draft and director’s cut of the film so that criticism is fair. I do want to set the record straight about a few things:

    Regarding Janese Talton-Jackson those were not my words and that was clearly indicated onscreen and in the narration. It was from a widely revered essay on her death by Damon Young: https://www.theroot.com/her-name-was-janese-talton-jackson-and-she-was-killed-b-1790854021

    Then there is criticism about too much stock footage and the real photos and testimony being too graphic and the topics too hard to follow. If I can’t utilize stock or real photos or real testimony then how should I tell the story…..with sock puppets perhaps? Many major and influential individuals and entities had no problem backing or following the film and the feedback has been tremendous! They appreciated the rawness, the journey, the transparency. Abuse is not censored so I will not censor the survivor who has the courage to share it. I will continue to define my style of activism and film making my way. My audience is proven!

  1. Reply

    Thank you for your comment, Robert. Question for you: When you say you were “at the screening,” which screening do you mean? We were at the 4 PM screening at Cinema Village (Manhattan) on Opening Day (Friday 7/20/18). Were you there too? With all best wishes, Jan Lisa Huttner (Editor-in-Chief of FF2 Media)

    • Leon Temple
    • August 5, 2018
    Reply

    The Rise Of Eve is a movie that is needed for what we are expirencing right now in our society that is slowly becoming numb in consciousness and empathy. The Rise Of Eve is sobering and a wake up call long overdue. I applaud the transparency of the stories told and it moves and inspires me as a man to take up the new look of feminism and try to help our men be better and be protectors of the women in their world and community. The male voice is needed. I took my 16 year old son to see this film and he totally gets the message of the narrative. Sometimes you need to see from a worldview what is happening universally.

    • Reverend David W Singleton
    • August 7, 2018
    Reply

    The Rise Of Eve
    On the surface appears to be an unsufisticated unpolished hodgepodge of random thoughts how be it far from the truth, this work speaks in plain language it’s beauty is simplicity L.Burner brillianty exposes the ugly truth of misogynistic physical and mental violence against women like removing a scab with sandpaper while proving how age old social cues and norms leave many males clueless. Although topics appear to randomly quick change lanes as sports cars on a highway there’s a marked exit.Often documentaries focus on one aspect of women right leaving many with tunnel vision this passionate film seeks to broaden our scope in order to provide Who,What, When,Where and How as a complete sentence the message is very clear to me Thanks in large part to L Burner

    1. Reply

      Thank you for your comments, Reverend Singleton. Jan Lisa Huttner (Editor-in-Chief of FF2 Media)

    • Jasmine
    • August 7, 2018
    Reply

    The Rise of Eve is not only informative and wise in its delivery, but it is blunt and at times, a hard truth to swallow. The film will definitely make you look in the mirror and become more familiar with not only the person that’s looking back but the person you wish to be! As I entered the theatre and made my way to the front (because I didn’t have my glasses) I noticed how packed it was. The entire theatre was pumped and ready to see a masterpiece and that is exactly what we got! The film had moments of humor which brought levity to an otherwise serious topic and it shined in its delivery of how women are actually treated and how we feel about it. This is a must-see film that I think people will appreciate and love. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it will be hard to watch at times, due to the imagery and facts on the topic of oppressed and abused women, but it is most definitely necessary. You should enter the film with an open mind but also an open heart and embrace the journey that it forces you to embark on. I give this 4 out of 5 stars. What an accomplishment of a film!

    1. Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Jasmine. Jan Lisa Huttner (Editor-in-Chief of FF2 Media)

    • Jasmine
    • August 7, 2018
    Reply

    I just published my honest true review of the film to this article/review because after I read the article, I believed a more personal and true opinion was needed. Humbly speaking, the film is exactly what it needs to be. From what I understand, the version that was put out for press and advanced screenings wasn’t even the edited final version, it was the directors cut and the film still carried a raw realism that showcased many hard truths. It’s a gritty film, and sometimes it was hard to watch due to the nature of the content, but this documentary is absolutely groundbreaking and compelling. Way to go L. Burner and congratulations on continuing a conversation that continuously gets swept under the rug; you are a real game changer!

    1. Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Jasmine. For the record, note that we did not base our review on a “press/advanced screening.” We were at Cinema Village in Manhattan on Opening Day (Friday 7/20/18), so presumably we saw the same film you saw. Your opinion is your opinion and we respect that. Whatever opinion a person has about something, that opinion is the one that is “more personal and true” for them. Jan Lisa Huttner (Editor-in-Chief of FF2 Media)

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