Penn State University Park campus consists of 46,000 undergrad students, so standing out at such an enormity of a university isn’t the easiest task. Senior film major and theatre minor Tracy Knittel is one in a million – or one in 46,000 undergrad. Valley got the chance to talk with the accomplished, young filmmaker.
With six internships, a summer at the New York Film Academy and a semester at The School of Visual Arts under her belt, Knittel has taken her talents far beyond Happy Valley. And she hasn’t stopped there, either. Directing a documentary is one heck of a feat, and she did it with flying colors.
“Every 107” is Tracy’s film documentary about three victims of sexual assault. Each of these women has their own, unique story to tell. These brave individuals choose to tell their stories in order to bring peace and hope to others who have faced a similar battle. Knittel captured their struggles, courage and victories of overcoming such traumatic events. When asked where the inspiration for the film came from, Knittel said that originally, she wanted to offer hope to others.
“I’ve always been really passionate about women’s issues and sexual assault, especially on college campuses,” says Knittel. After hearing these women’s stories, her motivation for the film shifted. These three women became her inspiration.
“At the end of the day, these women are so inspiring by what they’re pushing through,” says Knittel.
Telling such a powerful story comes with responsibility. Knittel says she wanted to tell the story in a truthful and accurate way and focus on what these women were going through.
“Real people are more inspiring and powerful than anything you could possibly write,” says Knittel. “I would say what inspired me most about these women is their ability to fight through this awful thing that has happened to them. If you met these three women on the street, you would not know they were going through it.”
Knittel started preproduction for the film in December of 2015 and filmed throughout the Spring 2016 semester. In April, she wrapped up postproduction, and the film was then selected for Penn State’s Blue and White Film Festival and was a semi-finalist for Best Short Student Documentary at the Reading Film Festival. It has been selected to play this coming April at the Thin Line Fest in Texas, as well as the Female Filmmakers Fuse Film Festival in Hollywood in June.
“I think that’s the most exciting thing about making a documentary in little old State College, and now, it has the potential to be seen by thousands in Texas and Hollywood,” says Knittel.
The documentary will also play at Sisters On the Runway’s Annual Fashion Show on April 25 in Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center. The event benefits Centre County Women’s Resource Center, which aids women affected by domestic abuse.
Every 107 seconds, a sexual assault occurs in the United States. One in five women and one in seventy-one men will be raped at some point during their lives.* One girl out of 46,000 students has taken her passions, talents and compassion and has conceived hope in the brave victims of sexual assault all across the country.
*Statistics found in “Every 107” and The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 summary report.