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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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SPVR, SAPHE host screening of ‘Disfluency’ film on surviorhood

Tulane University’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response collective and the Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education screened “Disfluency,” on April 18 in Labyrinth Cafe. (Ellie Cowen)

In a joint event on April 18, Tulane University’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response collective and the Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education screened “Disfluency,” a film about the survivorhood of a college student who is reckoning with her experiences of sexual trauma. 

The screening was followed by a discussion with the film’s director, Anna Baumgarten. 

“I am a survivor myself,” Baumgarten said at the opening of the event. Though the film is not autobiographical, she said, “It’s very important for survivors to have advocacy and control over their own story. So, this is how I’ve decided to share my story.” 

A Jury Award winner at the Austin Film Festival, “Disfluency” follows Jane, a college student who returns to her parents home after leaving college early and decides to conduct independent research on her friends’ speech patterns. Jane reconnects with old friends who are determined to bring her out of her shell, all while enduring increasingly distressing flashbacks to her sexual trauma at school. 

As explained in the opening scene of the movie, disfluencies are natural breaks or disruptions that occur in the flow of speech. These ‘ums,’ ‘likes’ and ‘sorrys’ are so “abused” in modern communication “they become powerless,” the movie says. 

Jane navigates pressure from her parents, a rekindling romance and deciding whether to report her assault to police. In its portrayal of the complex emotional aftermath of assault, Jane’s story is one of survival and strength. 

After being assaulted in her senior year of college, Baumgarten said her experiences manifested in panic attacks where she couldn’t speak. Soon after, she noticed herself saying “sorry” more than she ever had before. 

“I was inaudible, I couldn’t speak,” Baumgarten said. “I couldn’t explain to people that I was having a panic attack and one of the only words that I could get out was the word ‘sorry.’” 

As she started researching disfluencies, Baumgarten decided to write a short script which later became the full length film. “Disfluency” will be released in the fall for limited theatrical release and on Amazon for rent or purchase. 

“I thought the movie was really good,” Tulane Law School student Olivia Diga said. “I liked the way that we could see [Jane] going through everyday life but it was always obvious that there was something going on in the back. It showed [her] confused state.” 

“Today’s gathering offers an excellent opportunity to highlight the critical roles that SVPR and SAPHE play on this campus,” Anna Johnson, co-director of SVPR, said in the film’s introduction. “These organizations embody the spirit of student activism and advocacy, which are essential for addressing sexual violence on college campuses.”

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