HBO’s New Film ‘The Tale’ Documents A Survivor’s Story

A filmmaker comes to grips with her memories of abuse as a young athlete.

In the new autobiographical film, “The Tale,” which premieres on HBO on May 26, filmmaker Jennifer Fox reveals the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her running coach and horseriding instructor at only 13 years old.

Filmmaker Jennifer Fox. Photo by Kyle Kaplan/HBO.

In a gripping meditation on the elusive nature of memory and the complexities of sexual abuse of youth athletes, “The Tale” is the first narrative feature film from Fox, the Sundance grand prize winner and Emmy-nominated writer-director whose documentary films have earned international acclaim.

Based on her own life story, “The Tale” sees Fox bravely pushing the boundaries of conventional storytelling, creating a dialogue between past and present to illustrate the interplay between memory and trauma.

The film stars Oscar nominee Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse (“Mama”), Elizabeth Debicki (“The Night Manager”), Jason Ritter (“Kevin (Probably) Saves the World”), Frances Conroy, and the late John Heard, along with Common (Oscar winner for “Selma”) and Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn.

At a recent screening at the HBO Studios in New York City, three women — all from different backgrounds — discussed how sexual assault had affected them and what being a survivor of sexual assault means to them now. With over 100 people in the room, the conversation was raw and honest, with the attendees asking questions and sharing their own stories.

Fox and two fellow panelists — Nancy-Hogshead Makar, a rape survivor and an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and Elizabeth Blackney, also a rape survivor, and a board member of the nonprofit the Equality League — engaged in a heavy but hopeful conversation, rejecting the term “victim.”

Other survivors like Olympic champion in judo Kayla Harrison and speedskater Bridie Farrell have both used their platforms as athletes and survivors to raise awareness about sexual abuse.

Today, there’s a collective movement that’s allowing Fox, Hogshead-Makar, Blackney, and other courageous athletes to share stories in a space that feels safe and supportive. These safe spaces have given the survivors of sexual abuse an army that is backing them when they do come forward, such as the 156 gymnasts who read powerful victim impact testimonies against sexual abuser Larry Nassar earlier this year.

Now, at least 332 young women in total have come forward to share their #MeToo stories against Nassar — but that would have never happened without Rachael Denhollander, who first came out publicly with her story against Nassar.

That’s why we need more movies like “The Tale.” We need more stories that show abuse is complex, messy, and sometimes can go unnoticed even to ourselves and to one another.

“We want this film to change how we see sexual abuse and also how we see each other,” Fox said. “Despite the trauma, we survived.”

To learn more about the film visit Photos by Kyle Kaplan/courtesy of HBO.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less