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Published: Thursday, 1/26/2006

Filmmaker talks of domestic violence

Kennedy Kennedy

Critically acclaimed filmmaker Rory Kennedy, creator of documentaries highlighting social issues worldwide, spoke yesterday at the University of Toledo about cases of domestic violence shown in her films and how they had affected her.

Ms. Kennedy is the youngest daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D., N.Y.), who was attorney general under his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

In her time with various families throughout America, some of whom she spent years filming, Ms. Kennedy said instances of domestic violence sometimes startled her with their frequency.

Such was the case with one of her most famous documentaries, American Hollow, in which she detailed abuse in a poor Appalachian family.

"One of the things I wasn't expecting was that so many of the women in this family over many generations had been physically abused by either their husbands or their families," she told about 150 people in the UT law auditorium. But it was a scene in A Boy's Life, a 2003 HBO documentary, wherein a young boy was being manipulated by his grandmother, that caused Ms. Kennedy's voice to crack.

"It's a very hard scene to watch. I know - it was even harder to film," she said.

Ms. Kennedy quoted a 1998 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic that 25 percent of all women in the United States would be raped or physically assaulted by their intimate partners at some point in their lives, and FBI data saying that 32 percent of all female murder victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.

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