In this challenging yet open-minded doco by a young Swedish-Danish couple, Florida sex offenders preparing to re-enter society talk about their guilt and the barriers to rehabilitation. Special Jury Award winner at Sundance.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
The idea that an adult found guilty of sexually assaulting a child is capable of rehabilitation is hard for many people to accept. The mother of one offender saw the challenges faced by her son, and established a haven in a Florida trailer park. There, those emerging from a prison system famously rough on their kind might live cheaply and help one another re-enter the world. To date, we are told, not one of them has reoffended. Swedish-Danish filmmaking couple Frida and Lasse Barkfors’ documentary gives voice to a handful of the residents. The disparity in offence among those who’ve been deemed akin by the justice system is startling. A student entrapped by an internet invitation to underage sex from an undercover cop takes his therapy alongside a guilt-wracked woman who has repeatedly abused her own child. Her tormented admission of the harm she has inflicted – and has had inflicted upon her – is surely worth attending to. It’s a searing rejoinder to an entrenched mindset that’s strong on condemnation, but rarely harkens to copious evidence that the abused often become abusers – and might benefit from some attention before they offend.