(Venice, Italy) Spotlight is a riveting film about the Boston Globe four-person investigative news team called "Spotlight," which exposed the Catholic Church abuse scandal in their own town back in 2002. It received long, enthusiastic applause at the first screening here in Venice by an audience that appreciated the guts it took by both the Spotlight filmmakers and the Spotlight journalists to document with facts and impartiality the emotional and spiritual destruction of innocent children by men doing "God's" work.
If you think pedophilia in the Catholic Church is old news, it is not: just this July, Jozef Wesolowski, the former Vatican Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, as well as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, was the first -- and highest ranking Catholic official -- to be criminally charged by the Vatican and put on trial because he “corrupted, through lewd acts, adolescents presumed to be between 13 and 16 years old, in order to carry out on them, and in their presence, sexual acts." Wesolowski also had collected an astonishing amount of kiddy porn, even after being recalled to Rome. However, Wesolowski became suddenly ill the day before the trial was to start on July 11, and then was found dead just a week ago, on Friday, August 28, 2015 about 5:00AM in front of his TV in the Vatican room where he was under house arrest. The Vatican says he died of a heart attack at age 67.
Going up against the darkness inside the Catholic Church can be a deadly business. Pope John Paul I, Patriarch of Venice, gave it a shot, but ended up dead after only 33 days. The Vatican said he died of a heart attack about 5:00AM on September 29, 1978 at age 65...
In order to charge Wesolowski in the first place, who, as a Vatican ambassador, had diplomatic immunity in the Dominican Republic, Pope Francis issued an edict in July 2013, just four months after he became Pope, that said the laws of the Vatican City State were also applicable to its employees throughout the world, creating the legal basis for the trial. Here is a headline from July 7, 2015, just before the trial was supposed to start: Vatican trial for Józef Wesołowski a pivotal moment for Pope Francis.
|Michael Keaton as Walter "Robby" Robinson|
SPOTLIGHT FACT SHEET
- In 2002, the Spotlight team published nearly 600 stories about sex abuse by more than 70 priests whose actions were concealed by the Catholic Church.
- In December 2002, Cardinal Law resigned from the Boston Archdiocese and was re-assigned to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
- 249 priests have been publicly accused of sexual abuse within the Boston Archdiocese.*
- As of 2008, 1,476 victims survived priest abuse in the Boston area.*
- Nationwide 6,427 priests have been accused of sexually abusing 17,259 victims.*
- In the years since Spotlight’s report, sexual abuse by Catholic Church priests has been uncovered in 105 American cities and 102 dioceses world wide.* *Source: www.bishop-accountability.org a database compiled by Terry McKiernan.
At the press conference here in Venice, director and co-writer Tom McCarthy was asked what reaction he expected from the Catholic Church. "I expect no reaction." McCarthy elaborated that he would love for Pope Francis to see the film, and react, but the Church often does not respond. He said he had "high hopes" for Pope Francis, but we just have to wait and see.
Stanley Tucci, who plays Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney representing some of the abuse survivors who understands well the dark forces he is up against, said he thought the new Pope was "extraordinary." "This Pope would be the person to do it."
|Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo|
Michael Keaton was not here in Venice, but he was brilliant in the film. How Michael Keaton Saves Spotlight from IndieWire:
As Walter "Robby" Robinson, the veteran reporter at the helm of the Globe's clandestine Spotlight section, Keaton maintains his composure throughout — even as his focused gaze hints at a divided mindset below the surface. Like John Wayne's racist cowboy in "The Searchers," Robby is a well-intentioned representative of old world thinking attempting to find his place in a new terrain. In this case, that means tackling a story of corruption that stems from a world he instinctively protects.
|Stanley Tucci, Tom McCarthy, Mark Ruffalo|
Spotlight might be seen as a bookend of sorts to All The President’s Men. When that movie about Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation of the Watergate scandal came out in 1976, it earned Jason Robards an Oscar® for his portrayal of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, the father of Spotlight’s Ben Bradlee Jr. It also inspired a new generation of journalists to examine institutions once seen as off limits. In 2015, Spotlight celebrates the virtues of investigative reporting during a period when many fear that long-form journalism has taken a backseat to 24-hour news cycles, celebrity gossip and sensationalized Internet “click-bait.”
Over the past decade and a half, many newspapers have folded and seasoned journalists have lost their jobs, notes producer Nicole Rocklin. “With budgets slashed the way they have been, who is going to have the resources and the manpower take on stories like these? If these reporters hadn’t spent years of their lives on this, would it ever have come out? So it’s actually quite scary that investigative teams like this have disappeared from newsrooms around the country.”
McCarthy concurs: “Spotlight serves as a shining example of what professional, top-flight journalists can accomplish. I want to ring the bell about how essential this kind of journalism is, because to me, these reporters are straight-up heroes.”
Spotlight will be in theaters in November.
Ciao from the Venice Film Festival,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
This post was originally posted on 9/4/15, 12:32 PM Central European Summer Time. The date was changed for formatting purposes.