Oscar-nominated duo Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering open their latest documentary feature by exploring one of the #MeToo movement’s most glaring weaknesses: the absence of stories from those not white, young, and otherwise culturally desirable and ‘valuable’. While the exposes of 2017 may have formed the catalyst for Drew Dixon going public with her stories of sexual assault and harassment at Def Jam Records during her time with the music label in the 1990s, but the film takes time to examine a fundamental disconnect experienced by Dixon and other Black women during the entertainment industry’s recent reckoning before beginning its narrative. Following this, On the Record focuses its hundred minutes on testimony, allowing its interviewees to draw their own connections to wider societal and systemic pressures.

The result of this personal approach is a multi-layered look at workplace abuse that does not force themes from its subjects’ sufferings. On the Record’s exploration emerges organically from Dixon and fellow interviewees who testified against label founder Russell Simmons, and covers topics from misogynoir in music videos, anxiety around propagating the myth of the sexually aggressive Black man, and the hidden impossibility of progression in an outwardly mobile industry hiding a culture of workplace harassment.

Occasionally, the film takes on too much – some topics brought up by its subjects are quickly brushed aside and would possibly be better excised or expanded on. However, meticulous attention is given to the hurdles forced upon the victims – from the background checks to determine their credibility before even going on the record, to the harrowing detail they must recount once cleared.

On the Record takes a measured, personal, and intersectional approach to one side of the #MeToo movement, balancing analysis and experience without ever feeling invasive. Dick and Ziering are in clear command of the documentary craft.



CAST: Drew Dixon, Sil Lai Abrams, Alexia Norton Jones, Jenny Lumet, Sheri Sher

DIRECTOR: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

WRITERS: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Sara Newens

SYNOPSIS: This documentary follows a talent scout’s sexual abuse at Def Jam Records in the 1990s, years before #MeToo made headlines.  

About The Author

Features Editor

ORWAV Features Editor, more words at The Skinny, Screen Queens, Bright Wall/Dark Room, and FlipScreen. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a cinematic masterpiece.