New York Elite Magazine: “What makes a film great for me is the personal connection that you can make from the stories,” she said in the interview. “Storytelling is the single most powerful thing in my eyes. Being able to relate your struggles and your story is what connects people to your work.”
Davenport native Vanessa McNeal is just 23, and graduated last month with a master's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, but her film and public-speaking career already has taken off.
Davenport native wins "Best Director" at Newark International Film Festival
"AMES, Iowa — A groundbreaking documentary filmed in Iowa is bringing a voice to male survivors of sexual violence."
"The documentary 'The Voiceless' debuted Monday to 600 students at Iowa State’s Memorial Union."
"The film's creator, Vanessa McNeal is an Iowa State graduate and sexual violence survivor. McNeal spent a year putting together testimonies of five Iowa men who survived sexual violence."
"We really did this documentary to shed light and awareness on male sexual violence because it's not talked about, McNeal said."
“I felt ashamed,” one man says. “I felt like someone is stealing something from me.” “I just wanted to run away,” another adds, “and get away from everything.”
"According to the 2014 National Crime Victimization Survey, 38% of rape victims are male. And 1 in 6 males are sexually assaulted before the age of 18."
CEDAR FALLS — As Dakota Funk was still figuring out his own sexuality, as an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Northern Iowa, he was sexually assaulted by a man he knew.
That made it even more difficult to tell family and friends he was gay, he said.
"The film, which premiered Monday evening in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union, focused on a group of people often neglected in the conversation on sexual assault: male survivors."
"The Voiceless" gave five men, all from different backgrounds, the opportunity to share their experiences and showed audiences that sexual assault can happen to anyone."
"McNeal, a graduate student in UNI’s department of social work, discussed the relationship between societal constructions of masculinity and sexual violence."
“We live in a hyper masculine world where men can’t be hurt by things,” McNeal said. “People think that it doesn’t happen to them, and that’s not the case. Sexual violence doesn’t discriminate on gender, race or socio-economic status; it doesn’t matter… Just because you’re a man, it doesn’t excuse you from that.”
"McNeal is a 2015 Iowa State alumna in child, adult, and family services, and a graduate student at the University of Northern Iowa. "The Voiceless" is her third film, following "We are Survivors" and "I Am," which details her own story and experiences of eight others with child abuse and sexual violence."
"The Voiceless" was co-produced by PLVTO Productions and funded by the Iowa Board of Regents, Heart and Solutions Counseling Agency, the Center for Violence Prevention and the UNI Office of the Provost."
"There are many misconceptions about male rape victims. When most people view rapevictims as only a serious problem when regarding either children or women, they fail to include men and young boys as well."
"The Voiceless is a documentary, which speaks for several male victims of rape. Most people don’t know this but about 38 percent of rape victims are men, according to a survey dating back to 2014."
“Sexual violence does not discriminate against men,” activist and filmmaker Vanessa McNeal says.
McNeal’s new documentary The Voiceless features the stories of five male survivors of sexual violence and explores the taboos and stereotypes surrounding the abuse.