first_imgTORONTO – Mandi Gray admits she’s anxious about being the face of the new Canadian documentary “Slut or Nut: The Diary of a Rape Trial.”“Even coming here today, it was really nerve-racking,” she said in a recent interview at a press conference for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.“The media hasn’t been kind to me. I receive a lot of death threats, rape threats regularly. There are a lot of consequences to being someone that speaks publicly about sexual assault.“But I’m also very supported and my community has been amazing,” she continued.“They’ve supported me in so many different ways that I feel that it is an absolute necessity to keep going — because we need to continue having this conversation.”“Slut or Nut: The Diary of a Rape Trial” screens Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Hot Docs.It follows Gray as she navigates the Canadian legal system and faces online harassment after accusing a fellow PhD candidate at York University in Toronto of sexual assault.Last July, the accused had his conviction overturned after an Ontario appeal court found the trial judge relied too heavily on “rape literature.”In the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, in which women are being encouraged to report sexual assault, the film shows the difficulties of taking accusations to school officials and authorities in Canada.Gray and others explain the process involved in reporting sexual assault cases — from going to the police and hospital, to meeting with a sexual assault counsellor and proceeding to court.At trial in Canada, sexual assault complainants don’t get legal representation unless they pay for it, which Gray hopes will change.“Getting lawyers to represent me at both the university and through the legal process was absolutely life-changing,” said Gray, who has become a prominent sexual assault activist and is doing her PhD in sociology.“Legal counsel is not accessible to most, but that was absolutely fundamental in terms of how I was able to be a self-advocate in these systems and then also be supported through understanding and learning the laws.”Other speakers in the doc include Gray’s mother, a sexual assault nurse, and two sexual assault survivors identified only as Jane Doe.Kelly Showker directed and incorporated footage Gray shot of herself on her laptop and phone.Gray said she shot video diaries and wrote detailed journals of her experience as a way of documenting it for her own purposes. She had no idea the footage would one day wind up in a feature-length documentary.“The film not only has empowered me to share my story but a lot of others have come forward as a result of hearing about the film or being involved in the film,” she said.“So we have a number of almost entirely women artists who’ve donated their time to the film, who have contributed to the film in a number of different ways.“It’s been really empowering to work with this amazing community of women artists, filmmakers, to put this film together. I really hope that it encourages young women to get involved in film and to create and use art as a medium of talking about difficult subjects.”She also hopes the film will help discourage immediate dismissals of sexual assault claims.“I find that there’s a lot of support of the nameless, faceless survivor but when we actually hear stories, especially when it’s a perpetrator who’s in a position of power, then we begin to dismiss the stories,” Gray said.“So I really want people to see that these victims, these survivors, are actual real, living people who have lives that are completely damaged and turned upside down in response to sexual assault — and not just the sexual assault but the institutional failures to respond to sexual assault.”last_img