A group of seven filmmakers have banded together for the “Wasilla Project” in which they examine the controversy surrounding the billing of rape victims for their forensic medical exams by the city of Wasilla. The filmmakers have created a documentary highlighting this shameful practice of re-traumatizing sexual assault victims during the administration of Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin.
Why did we produce this video?
Our initial reason for starting the Wasilla Project was to learn about who Sarah Palin is from the people who know her best, folks from Wasilla, Alaska, Palin’s hometown. A group of 7 filmmaker friends got together, organized the plans, raised money for flights and soon we were off to Wasilla, to interview real people there about the Sarah Palin they know, and make a series of films that hopefully give a thoughtful, authentic view of who she is.
While the team’s political beliefs tend toward left of center, we hope that the films we produce will reach people no matter where they fall in the political spectrum.
As often happens, what we found when we arrived was far different than our expectations. People in Wasilla were very eager to help us, but very reluctant to be on camera. Governor Palin has had quite a history of political turmoil during her time in public office, and there was a lot of concern from people who know her not to get on her enemies list by speaking frankly on camera. Nevertheless, we were able to secure interviews with people whose concern for getting accurate information out to the public, was greater than their concern for their political future.
As we arrived in Wasilla and our original 3 scheduled interviews turned into 12, we found that we had acquired material for a much broader range of subjects than we anticipated. We are now in the process of creating 4 films on Palin to distribute between now and the election. Of the 4 films, we felt that this one, on the controversy of the police chief of Wasilla charging victims for the rape kits and whether Palin, mayor of Wasilla during that time knew, was the most important to get out first. We struggled to cover it in a way that gave the perspective of Palin and her supporters on the issue, but the topic was so disturbing that in the end, we just let the people we interviewed speak for themselves.
In this film you’ll see the following people from interviews we conducted September 26th-28th, 2008:
– Eric Croft, former Alaska state representative, Democrat, and sponsor of the 2000 bill which made it illegal to charge rape victims for rape kits in Alaska.
– Tara Henry, forensic nurse who has conducted many exams in Anchorage, Alaska.
– Dianne Woodruff, Republican Wasilla resident and member of the Wasilla City Council. Diane is no longer a republican, but an independent.
– Dr. Colleen Murphy, former Alaska Violent Crimes Compensation Board, where she heard first hand accounts of victims being charged for their forensic exam.
I’m sure that this story will continue to develop and we hope that this video will be a positive contribution to helping the American electorate understand the issues that it raises.
We feel that with an issue as controversial and important as this one, the more information people have about this issue, the better. Below are resources that may be helpful in order to try to understand what happened in Wasilla around violence against women between 1996 and 2000, the years in question where it has been acknowledged that this occurred. We look forward to your comments and ideas. Thank you for watching!
October 8, 2008