Dakota Fanning: "It's called acting"

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Dakota Fanning: 'It's called acting'
Story Highlights• Dakota Fanning film stars her as young rape victim
• Controversial scene dark with flashes of lightning; no nudity
• "It's not a rape movie," says Fanning
• Director: "I didn't manipulate these children"
• Director, star talked about film for months beforehand

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- At a festival that features several films with sexual content, including full male nudity and a documentary about bestiality, a Southern Gothic tale that includes the rape of a young girl is causing the biggest stir.

"Hounddog" is the story of Lewellen, a girl played by 12-year-old Dakota Fanning, who is growing up in the 1960s South. She is a free-spirit obsessed with Elvis Presley and has little supervision by her abusive father and alcoholic grandmother.

Even before the first screening of "Hounddog" at the Sundance Film Festival this week, a Christian film critic, citing Fanning's age, decried the movie as child abuse, and Roman Catholic activist Bill Donohue called for a federal investigation.

Fanning is defending her work as well as the movie, and so is the head of Sundance, who said it was courageous for director Deborah Kampmeier to tackle "challenging material." "Hounddog" is entered in the festival's dramatic category. (Blog: Read the reaction of CNN's Brooke Anderson.)

"It's not a rape movie," Fanning said Tuesday. "That's not even the point of the film." (Watch Fanning's dance with a lamp pole 'microphone' and her take on the role)

Fanning is upset at people who have criticized her family and colleagues.

"When it gets to the point of attacking my mother, my agent ... my teacher, who were all on the set that day, that started to make me mad," she said in an interview with Reuters.

"I can let other things go, but when people start to talk about my mother, like, that's really bad in my opinion ... that's an attack, and that's not fair. They hadn't seen the movie," she added.

The disturbing scene lasts a few minutes but is not graphic. There is no nudity, the scene is very darkly lit and only Fanning's face and hand are shown.

Kampmeier said it took her a decade to get the film made, largely because of the rape scene, but cutting it was a compromise she was unwilling to make.

"This issue is so silenced in our society. There are a lot of women who are alone with this story," she said.

"When you're shooting a film, it's the images you line up next to each other that create a story," Kampmeier said. "If you have a hand hitting the ground, Dakota screaming 'stop' and you see a zipper unzip -- that creates a rape."

Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and publisher of the Web site movieguide.org, claims "Hounddog" breaks federal child-pornography law. He said the law covers material that "appears" to show minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

"Even if they're not actually performing the explicit act, we are dealing with a legal issue here," he said.

Baehr said Fanning is being exploited in the film, and that it should be considered an outrage.

"Children at 12 do not have the ability to make the types of decisions that we're talking about here," he said. "If we're offended by some comedian's racial slur, why aren't we offended by somebody taking advantage of a 12-year-old child?"

Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said he has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether anti-pornography laws have been broken.

Two other children perform in the film. Cody Hanford plays Buddy, and Isabelle Fuhrman plays a girl nicknamed "Grasshopper."

Kampmeier said she talked with the children and their parents but didn't go into great detail with the young actors about the content.

"I didn't have to articulate to Cody and Isabelle the psychological elements that were going on in this film," she said. "I used images to tell the story. I didn't manipulate these children or explain to these children what was going on."

Fanning said she and Kampmeier talked for months before the film was shot and spent a day painting pottery together and discussing the story.

"It's not really happening," Fanning said of a rape. "It's a movie, and it's called acting. I'm not going through anything. Cody and Isabelle aren't going through anything, their characters are.

"And for me, when it's done it's done," she said. "I don't even think about it anymore."

Sundance director Geoffrey Gilmore said independent filmmakers should pursue sensitive subject matter. (EW: Sundance 2007)

"I feel the mission and very nature of what Sundance is about is to provide a platform for that," he said.
Personally, I don't get the hubbub about this. Especially if its not done in a exploitive way. I remember watching Blue Lagoon and Endless Love and swore Brooke Shield spent a good deal of time either naked or half naked with sex scenes and was a teenager. Jodi Foster was a 12 year old prostitute in Taxi Driver. I even remember a rape scene against a child in the Shipping News so why is there protest against this now?
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Obviously I haven't seen the movie in question, but from what is described it sounds like much ado about nothing.
Madonna getting upset with her daughter for dressing too slutty is like Mr. T getting upset with his son for pitying too many fools.
I wish these folks would protest as harshly about real kids in real life getting raped and do something about protecting children, instead of sounding off about what sounds like a sensitive and well-done movie.
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Roman Catholic activist Bill Donohue called for a federal investigation
Blue Lagoon, Pretty Baby and Taxi Driver were all really controversial when they came out. So was Endless Love. Brooke Shields mother was constantly criticized.
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I haven't seen it, so I can't comment on the content. From the description, it doesn't seem exploitative. Whatever the case may be, the protesters have the right to express their opinions - even if they are misguided.
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Roman Catholic activist Bill Donohue called for a federal investigation
Originally Posted by hayseedlady
Classic, huh?
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I wish these folks would protest as harshly about real kids in real life getting raped and do something about protecting children, instead of sounding off about what sounds like a sensitive and well-done movie.
Originally Posted by Suburbanbushbabe
Well-said!
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I can't judge something I haven't seen but I was watching CNN today and there was a critic on there who had seen the movie and he said it was done in a very discreat way and that was well shot he said yeah it was hard to watch but it was done the right way.







There was a movie a few years ago made by HBO or Showtime or something called "B@stard out of Carolina" which starred a very young Jenna Malone. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays her mother who gets involved with an abusive man who rapes Malone's character, infact repeatedly if I recall correctly. At times I thought it got rather graphic and physical and I don't remember such a fuss being made over that.

This movie doesn't sound like it shows the rape in any sort of extreme way, and I read there are more sexually suggestive scenes in this movie involving Dakota Fanning other than the rape scene, which sounds pretty timid to me, it sounds like it is just implied but not actually shown to any graphic extent.

I'm curious to see what happens reguarding the allegations of exploitation, child pornography and abuse.


******* out of Carolina was based upon a novel by the same name. I couldn't bring myself to see it. the book was great, but it was unrelentingly brutal.
I bet they're doing this more to get publicity for their group than anything else.
A Time To Kill also featured a little girl getting raped. It was kind of graphic too...
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&%$@#! out of Carolina was based upon a novel by the same name. I couldn't bring myself to see it. the book was great, but it was unrelentingly brutal.
Originally Posted by Discgirl
That is book was excellent...the ending rather sad. You should check out the movie. The movie is very close to the book and is done really well.
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Dakota is one of my favorite actresses of the day, easily in my top 5. She exudes such maturity and good sense for someone so young, and I can only imagine that's largely thanks to her parents.
That's stupid. Kids who are actors do lots of different scenes that rip my heart out. When a kid has it's armed reached out screaming for mom/dad to come back, or when it's a death/funeral scene, or even in a scary movie where they are freaking out and terrified- is all awful - but it's not real. They aren't REALLY going through it - all alone, in the dark, etc. Stupid I say.
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While we are at it, Spielberg needs to be tried at The Hague. There was all that slave trafficking in Amistad and Schindler's List, well, that was one big snuff film, right? He basically broke every law of the Geneva Convention.
There was a movie a few years ago made by HBO or Showtime or something called "B@stard out of Carolina" which starred a very young Jenna Malone. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays her mother who gets involved with an abusive man who rapes Malone's character, infact repeatedly if I recall correctly. At times I thought it got rather graphic and physical and I don't remember such a fuss being made over that.

This movie doesn't sound like it shows the rape in any sort of extreme way, and I read there are more sexually suggestive scenes in this movie involving Dakota Fanning other than the rape scene, which sounds pretty timid to me, it sounds like it is just implied but not actually shown to any graphic extent.

I'm curious to see what happens reguarding the allegations of exploitation, child pornography and abuse.
Originally Posted by imagen


ooooh that movie is tough to watch. TOUGH to watch.
It figures it would be Bill Donohue who confuses rape with sexualization of a kid.

Rape is NOT sex. It is abuse. It is domination. It involves sexual organs. It can seriously affect a future sex life for the victim, and can even get you pregnant. But rape itself is not sexualization. It is horrifying abuse.

ETA: I think in movies both are acting and there needs to be special sensitivity to the emotions of a kid. But she's fully clothed and you see her hand? Doesn't sound bad from the description anyway. I'm more bothered by how casual shows are about teen sex even with non-teen actors than I am by at least the concept of this.
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I remember reading about this at some point, and the director basically led Fanning through the reactions he wanted during the rape scene--that he didn't make her act as if she was being raped. And then the camera stayed on her face. I haven't seen it, though. It was on my netflix queue a while, but I was never in the mood to watch something that depressing.
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