Girls’ Night Out tackles the prevalent and often dangerous culture of binge drinking and young women, with the eye of a reporter, the curiosity of an anthropologist, and the sometimes-wounded heart of a teenage girl. A deeply personal point-of-view film embedded in the stories of young women engaged in, and in ‘recovery’ from, this toxic epidemic, Girls’ Night Out offers an intimate conversation around this very serious issue and explores the all-too-ubiquitous story of what’s happening to 80% of the young women at university campuses across North America with often damaging consequences.
The statistics are alarming and the practice far-reaching in North American society. Binge drinking among young women, which starts as early as grade school and peaks on college campuses, is an epidemic that has become crushingly normalized. While this may not come as a surprise to some, the immediate risks, and long term physical and psychological damage can’t be shrugged off.
The film presents a unique perspective into why intelligent, accomplished young women drink themselves into oblivion. It delves into their underlying feelings of acceptance, self-worth, and body image, as they reveal their influences: the glamorization of booze through the media and celebrities, the escape it offers from the pressures and anxieties they feel, and the normalization of binge drinking culture in the social milieu of being young. Girls’ Night Out is an inspirational, but cautionary story of sexual assault, addiction, and the devastating dangers that are specific to contemporary young women who drink too fast, too much, and too often.
The film features the first person narratives from women such as Jen McNeely, founder of the popular website She Does the City. Now 36, Jen recalls going to the school nurse who asked her how much she was drinking; “it was like 35, 40 drinks a week. She advised me to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, but I wasn’t interested”.
Kelsi, now a 28-year-old PR professional, sought treatment after passing out and waking up in jail after someone drugged her drink. Cara, an actress, cites her attraction to drinking from ads and TV shows glamourizing pop culture figures like Rihanna and The Kardashians. And Sarah Hepola, author of ‘Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget’ highlights the power of the brand of single, empowered ladies “and suddenly you were Carrie Bradshaw – you drank a lot, you had kind of marauding sexual adventures and high five, you’re living the life.”
Directed by Phyllis Ellis – Donald Brittain Award-winning filmmaker, produced by Emmy-Award-winning White Pine Pictures, and drawing inspiration from Canadian journalist, author Ann Dowsett Johnston’s best-selling book ‘Drink, The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol’.
Girls’ Night Out will be followed by an intimate talk-back session with Phyllis Ellis, Ann Dowsett Johnston and Jen McNeely, streamed online. The premiere broadcast will launch the Girls’ Night Out #RethinkTheDrink Talkback Tour, made possible with financing from TELUS Fund, to ignite the #RethinkTheDrink conversation among university and college students across Canada.