When six survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests agree to process their experience through the creation of filmed scenes, they are uncertain about what will happen. And that suits the audience of Progress (Netflix) too, a gripping experimental documentary that combines trauma, art, frustration, suppression, drama, confrontation, liberation, and triumph to an equal degree.
PROGRESS: SHOULD BE PARTICIPATE OR FORGET?
Gist: Progress An abrupt start with footage from a 2018 press conference in Kansas City, Missouri became the impetus for this sought-after, format-corrected documentary from director Robert Greene (Kate plays Christine). Together with their attorney, Rebecca Randles, the men who were sexually abused as children at the hands of Catholic priests tell their stories and voice their defiance. That press conference began a three-year project between the filmmakers, six of the survivors, and a drama therapist. The men met, and Michael Sandridge, Tom Viviano, Dan Laurine, Joe Eldred, Ed Gavigan, and Mike Foreman later became the reality stars of both this documentary and the scenes shot therein. As they attended the therapy sessions, they also began brainstorming concepts for five scenes shot that would tell about their trauma as a victim of sexual abuse. (As therapist Monica Phinney describes, drama therapy is “the intentional use of dramatic role-playing techniques for therapeutic purposes.”) Storyboards outlined, locations sourced , scripts are written and roles are cast, the whole process plays out as a form of confrontational therapy.
“I am deeply annoyed when they use rituals and symbols that are supposed to be helpful and bring you closer to God just to hurt you,” Sandridge told the other men, who wholeheartedly agreed. idea. Their past is shared, even if the sites they’ve been abused are not. “You just know you didn’t talk back to them.” Subtitles periodically pop up to give history and context – how abuser Laurine fled Missouri and stayed one step ahead of his arrest for decades, or how abusive priest Sandridge was expelled from church for several weeks before his death. Viviano’s case went to court as Progress was filmed, which prevented him from creating a scene based on it. But in a different kind of confrontation, he ends up playing a priest in a series of two other men. Various forms of catharsis Progress exploration gives this gripping documentary real appeal.
What movies will it remind you of? Outside Progress, Netflix also has features Athlete A, director Bonni Cohen’s gripping, disturbing 2020 documentary about the culture of sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics and the case against Dr. Larry Nassar. Tom McCarthy’s 2015 Best Picture Winner Spark follow Boston Globeinvestigation into the widespread sexual abuse of Catholic priests in and around Boston.
Performances worth watching: From the olfactory memories of abuse survivors, to their trauma, to the filmmakers’ use of the tools of their trade, Progress can accentuate feelings of fear that something else mundane can bring. The jingle of the necklace on the censer and its acrid scent, the inexplicable sliding lock on the confessional door – these instances elevate what could almost be considered moments in the confessional. horror movie of Progress.
Memorable dialogue: “It is an absolute poverty that the statute of limitations is the crown jewel of the Catholic church. What do God and Jesus Christ think about that? “Mike Foreman is the most outgoing member of the group. In a gravelly voice, he delivered accusations like these with equal degrees of anger and bitter irony.
Gender and Skin: Are not.
Our Take: “For all those boys, we’re going to conquer this place.” Joe Eldred says this as he returns to Viking Lake, the community of lakeside cottages outside of Kansas City where his abuse occurred, and the confrontational sense of space and subsequent reclamation. that became one of the most powerful recurring themes in Progress. Another of the men, Ed Gavagan, returned to the church in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where a sitting Bishop abused him; he tugs the braided wire to ring the bell, imbuing the act from his scarred childhood with the regenerative energy of healing. And for Michael Sandridge, who suffered abuse at a downtown Kansas City swimming pool after it was torn down, the power of the place is even more acute, for as a designer interior designer, he wanted to face the place more.
For each of these men, the support they give each other in their journey toward personal peace is part of what makes them more whole, after a whole experience of meeting, planning, Plan and shoot scenes Progress. And for the audience, it was that story that kept us in circles, part of the process and witnessing dramatic therapy in the workplace. It’s their personal journey, as they “go into survival mode”, helping the candle burn Progress. “We’re trying to scroll through each other’s memories and the things that haunt us the most,” Laurine said at one point, and saw them do this in near real-time as the footage came together as well. provide a note about their very real community, very personal trauma.
Our call: INSTRUCTIONS IT. Undoubtedly, its subject matter is being gutted. But Progress finally highlights redemption and catharsis as it finds its dramatic form.
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living in Chicagoland. His work has appeared on The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges
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