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The Line

The Line

Duration: 24 min
ISBN: 1-932869-42-5
Date Produced: 2010
Subtitles: English

Filmmaker Info
Study Guide
Press Room
Film Festivals
Related Links
Press Reviews
Praise for the Film

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The Line

A young woman is raped when a one-night stand far from home goes terribly wrong. In the aftermath, as she struggles to make sense of what happened, she decides to make a film about the relationship between her own experience and the tangle of political, legal, and cultural questions that surround issues of sex and consent. Using a hidden camera, filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman goes head-to-head with the man who assaulted her, recording their conversation in an attempt to move through the trauma of her experience and achieve a better understanding of the sometimes ambiguous line between consent and coercion. The result is a powerful documentary about the terrible personal reality of rape and sexual violence -- and the more complicated and ambivalent ways sexual assault is often framed and understood in the wider culture. Schwartzman, as the prismatic main character, is likeable, while embodying the needs, desires, and inner conflicts common among young sexually active American women. Completed after being presented in classrooms on dozens of college campuses, The Line is structured to invite and reward students' trust, making them comfortable enough to discuss sex, consent, legal rights, and the politics surrounding gender violence while examining issues too often deemed embarrassing, shameful, or taboo.

For additional resources and information, visit the website for The Line Campaign:

Nancy Schwartzman is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and campus events. Email to invite this dynamic program to your campus or community.

Additional Materials

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Filmmaker Info

Written, Directed & Produced by Nancy Schwartzman
Cinematography: Isaac Mathes
Editors: Marin Sander Holzman & Nancy Schwartzman
Original Music: Aaron Albano (aka Ming)
Sound Design: Jeremy Fleishman
Story Consultant: Fernanda Rossi

Filmmaker's Bios

Nancy Schwartzman is a filmmaker, writer and activist working for over thirteen years to create community solutions to combat sexual violence and promote public debate. The Line is a personal documentary that explores consent from a sex-positive point of view. With an emphasis on interactivity and dialogue, she launched the accompanying "where is your line?" campaign. Prior to The Line, she produced the award-winning short film Ocean Avenue. Nancy is the founder of an online initiative noted by The New York Times, Gawker, The Village Voice and The Daily News to engage community organizations and businesses to create safer routes for pedestrians, especially women. From 2002 to 2005, she was a founding editor and Creative Director of HEEB Magazine. For six years, Nancy was the Program Officer at the Fund for Jewish Documentary Film. She has curated short film festivals at the Pioneer Theater, Berlin, London, and Tel Aviv. Her essays have been featured in The Independent, HEEB, Sh'ma and Plenty Magazine. Nancy lectures extensively on college campuses on the topic of consent and healthy sexual boundaries. She is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in Art History and Film. She has lived in Paris and Jerusalem, and currently resides in Brooklyn. She recently married Isaac Mathes, her cameraman.

Isaac Mathes (born in 1972, USA) is a filmmaker, teacher, and freelance cinematographer based in New York City. His work is hybrid and essayistic in nature, moving between the poles of documentary, narrative, and video art. He screens at film festivals, biennales, and galleries, in places a far-flung as Moscow, Thessaloniki, Seoul, and Rotterdam. At home, he shoots for independent filmmakers and clients such as ABC News, National Geographic, and A&E.

Marin Sander-Holzman started working in film and television as an apprentice editor for HBO's The Laramie Project. He went on to be an assistant editor for NBC's The Today Show and Dateline as well as Frontline: The Jesus Factor for PBS. His editorial department feature film credits include The Woodsman, Lackawanna Blues, Off the Black, Shadowboxer, Shortbus, and Staten Island, as well as several long and short form documentaries including the The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. He edited and was a contributing writer for the eight episode season of ARTSTAR for Gallery HD/Cablevision, a collaboration with Deitch Projects that followed emerging artists as they navigate the landscape of the New York contemporary art world. Marin has collaborated on video works for contemporary performance with acclaimed choreographers Kim Epifano, Miguel Gutierrez, and Yasuko Yokoshi.

Film Festivals

SEX+++| Jane Addams Hull-House Museum | Chicago | November 8, 2011
Flying Broom International Women's Film Festival | Ankara, Turkey | May 2010
UC Davis Feminist Film Festival | Davis, CA | April 9 - 10, 2010
International Women's Film and Arts Festival | Miami | April 6, 2010
Female Eye Film Festival | Toronto | March 24 - 28, 2010
Filmmor International Women's Film Festival | Istanbul | March 12 - 20, 2010
International Women's Film Festival | Israel | September 11, 2009
San Francisco United Film Festival | San Francisco | June 12 - 18, 2009


CFLE's National Sex Ed conference | Somerset, NJ | December 7-9, 2011
American Sociological Association meeting | Las Vegas | August 20-23, 2011
WCADVSA Sexual Assault Summit | Sheridan, WY | April 19 - 21, 2011
American College Personnel Association convention | Baltimore | March 26 - 30, 2011
Wisconsin Women's Studies Conference | Madison, WI | March 25 - 26, 2011
Reimagining Girlhood: Communities, Identities, Self-Portrayals | SUNY Cortland | October 22 - 24, 2010
SPARK Summit | New York | October 22, 2010
2010 National Sexual Assault Conference | Los Angeles | September 1 - 3, 2010
MNCASA's Annual Meeting and Training Symposium | Chaska, MN | August 9 - 10, 2010
Media That Matters: Activate! | New York, NY | June 3, 2010
Sex::Tech Conference | San Francisco | February 26 - 27, 2010
Making Your Media Matter | Washington DC | February 11 - 12, 2010
Muslim Women and Sexuality Conference | Istanbul, Turkey | September 11 - 18, 2009
Limmoud Conference | Paris
Limmud Conference | England
Jewish Women International Conference | Washington, DC

The Line Campaign is an educational and interactive digital space that fosters dialogue about sexual boundaries and consent, and empowers young men and women to discuss complex scenarios about healthy relationships and sex. is a group blog on consent, sex, pleasure, and ways we can ask for it. Through your stories, your photos, and your comments, we hope this is a place where we can dig deeper into all the questions raised by the film.

This campaign is generously funded by The Fledgling Fund.

Nancy Schwartzman is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and campus events. Email to invite this dynamic program to your campus or community.

Press Reviews

KPFK Los Angeles 90.7 | April 2011
Inspiring People with Dana Roc | April 2011
AlterNet | April 2011 Montogomery News | September 11, 2010
Jezebel | June 8, 2010
Good Vibrations Magazine | May 25, 2010
Women & Hollywood | April 14, 2010
Washington City Paper "The Sexist Blog" | April 13, 2010
WBAI Radio "HealthStyles" | March 5, 2010
Prevention Connection | February 2010
The Feminist Review | February 2010
Feministing | February 2010
Ms. Magazine | November 2009
HEEB | September 2009
Time Out New York | 2009 Sex Issue
Feministe | August 2009

Praise for the Film

"I wish I'd had The Line when I was doing prevention education with students at Montana State University. It really gets to the heart of what we need to talk about with college students. It's what I was always looking for to be able to start honest, relevant discussions about what consent really is and what sexual assault looks like in real situations. It is an amazing tool for all of us trying to raise awareness, effectively educate, and finally end sexual violence."
- Erin Jemison | MPA Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

"The Line raises crucial questions about sexual safety and pleasure as we navigate our hook-ups, fuck buddy choices, and longer-term relationships. Filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman blazes a brave trail, encouraging us to talk more openly and to think more clearly about how, where, and why we draw our personal lines of sexual consent."
- Dr. Shira Tarrant | Editor, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power

"The Line is a critical tool for igniting dialogue about sexual assault, consent and healthy sexual behavior for college students. Thought-provoking, nonjudgmental and hard-hitting, no student can watch this film and not think critically about their behavior."
- Brett A. Sokolow, Esq. | Founder of NCHERM

"I've always been as respectful to women as I can, but the film actually made me think about where the line really is."
- Male Student | Rutgers University

"Nancy Schwartzman has made a brave, honest and gripping film. A must see for boys and men, empowering for girls and women -- this film will make a huge impact on the lives of many. The Line is a critically important visual essay."
- Byron Hurt | Filmmaker, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes

"Often conversations about sexual consent -- crossing the line -- are abstract and bloodless -- and therefore, often dishonest. By fearlessly examining her own experience, Nancy Schwartzman opens the door to a far more honest conversation. This is one brave film!"
- Dr. Michael Kimmel | Author of Guyland

"The Line by Nancy Schwartzman provokes critical debate about what constitutes consent. The film moves us away from outdated notions of rape as simply an assertion of power so that we can have a more nuanced discussion about sexual assault as a consequence of masculine entitlement. I plan to show The Line in my own classes."
- Nicholas L. Syrett | Assistant Professor of History, University of Northern Colorado | Author, The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities

"The Line is one of the best films I have ever seen on the topic of sexual violence and sexual assault. This film is a MUST HAVE for the advocate's toolbox!"
- P. Kenna Grant | Director of Health Education and The Women & Gender Resource Center, The University of Hartford

"A powerful film."
- Good Vibrations Magazine

"Nancy Schwartzman has taken a very personal experience about sexual assault that sadly many women have been through and used it to create a cultural conversation about sexual responsibility."
- Women and Hollywood

"Nancy Schwartzman has created a rare film that allows the viewer to explore their beliefs and biases as well as their own victimization -- and potential offending -- through her experience with sexual assault. We hosted a screening of The Line where Nancy introduced the film and facilitated a provocative and important conversation about sexual assault and consent. I strongly recommend it to any community or organization seeking to raise awareness of this issue."
- Jennifer Long | Director of AEquitas, the Prosecutors Resource on Violence Against Women

"The Line explores sexual violence from a human-rights based framework, and is told with sensitivity and honesty that we don't often see. It is that rare personal film that truly becomes universal... I don't think anyone can see this film and not ask themselves: have I ever crossed the line? Or let someone cross it?"
- Andrea Holley | Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival

"We enjoyed The Line because it was real, it made sense, and nothing was sugar coated. It was courageous."
- Relationship Abuse Prevention Program Peer Leaders from Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics

"...Addresses important issues surrounding sexual boundaries, ethics, and issues of consent. The Line helps to define the issue at hand and raises some important questions (e.g., what constitutes sexual assault? What qualifies as consent? Why are some rape victims taken more seriously than others?)."
- Amy Leisenring | San Jose State University | Teaching Sociology

"The Line is a smart, poignant documentary. The Line successfully blends and presents complex layers of sexual violence. It provides the viewer with a personal connection to surviving rape and a lens to critically think about our beliefs about gender and sexual violence. As an educator on sexual violence prevention, it would be an honor to show Nancy's work and her story to our campus."
- Jill Lipski Cain | The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, Minneapolis, MN

"A fabulous teaching tool."
- Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Director's Statement

I never intended to make a film about my sexual boundaries, or to involve myself in The Line.

Formerly a wild, outspoken, and fierce young woman, I sank into silence after my sexual assault. I was blocked, stunned, confused, and angry. After this event, my life took a drastic turn, and I wasn't sure I wanted to film it. I kept quiet. When I finally did gain the courage to speak, I was directly and indirectly blamed for what happened.

The Line is an intensely personal film.

I felt compelled to tell my story when it became clear that as a sexual woman, who is not "a perfect victim", I would be blamed for what happened. My rape was not clear cut: I was already in his bed. Learning from attorneys that I had legal recourse, but it probably wouldn't hold up in court, I used filmmaking as a tool to better understand the context in which I was raised, and the world that young men and women are growing up in today. Hearing from friends and peers that I was overreacting, or partially to blame for what happened, compelled me further. Filming frat boys, prostitutes, educators, and lawmakers gave me a vehicle with which to ask questions, seek answers and provoke a discussion. Deciding to confront my attacker and film it with a hidden camera, gave me ownership and control, a strength I didn't know I had. It allowed me to face my fear, and construct a film around the powerful dialogue.

Using The Line, and The Line Campaign to spark dialogue, the viewer is invited to discuss complex scenarios about healthy relationships and sex.

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