I first heard about Capturing The Friedmans, Andrew Jarecki's award winning documentary, via The Harry Knowles Digest, sometime late last year. Upon reading Harry's review, and deciding that this was something worth seeking out, I left the site with a fair amount of fresh knowledge stored amidst the skull-gunk behind my peepers.
Knowledge I Now Was Home To
I knew that documentaries had, over the last five years, mutated from late-night, hour-long reconstructed telly-fodder, to dynamic, often incendiary pieces of cinema.
I knew that this particular example of the genre not only dealt with a seriously contentious area (child abuse), but also tackled it in a non-sensationalist, ambiguous fashion.
I knew this had the potential to be incredibly uncomfortable viewing, one of those car-crash flicks that show up now and again, filled with scenes and images you don't want to acknowledge or invest any thought in, but which you can't draw yourself away from regardless.
Finally, I knew that this was probably a very good film.
Now, Here's Some Things I Didn't Know
I didn't know that Capturing The Friedmans would belatedly make The Duke's personal Best Of 2003 list, and I certainly didn't know that it would be in the top three of such.
I didn't know that Jarecki's film would be so poignant, so tender, and so unjudgemental.
I didn't know that it was probably the most important film to deal with this particular subject.
A bit of background, then.
Here in the UK, where Mondo Towers is situated, the Paedophile is probably the most vilified sexual offender of a particularly long and unpleasant list. A couple years back, The News Of The World ran a well-publicised Name And Shame campaign, through which they, well, Named and Shamed a number of convicted child-sex offenders, mostly without any thought of the consequences, and certainly outside of the law on several occasions. A lynch mob mentality was invoked, heralding a seeming free-for-all with regards the punishment of such individuals. About six miles from where I am now typing in such a melodic fashion, a paediatrician's house was attacked by a group of vigilante-types who somewhat misunderstood her job description.