Tribeca Film Fest: Diverse Docs on Sex Abuse Legislation, Family Secrets & Happiness

happy-film-watermelonsThree of the full-length documentaries at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival dealt with a variety of topics, some very serious and some less so, but all compelling.

untouchableUntouchable is a brave film by attorney David Feige that looks at how well the sex offender registry actually works. He profiles not just victims but perpetrators. One of these is a woman who had sex as a teenager with a younger teenager and is now forever on the sex offender registry and at risk of losing her children. Feige shows how broad the registry has become and cites statistics that show it doesn’t help us keep our children safer. Another offender talks about the abuse he suffered as a child that ultimately led to him becoming an abuser. This is one tough and controversial subject, but Feige gives all sides their say, making it a film that forces us to think hard about our preconceptions.

Memories of a penitent heart1Memories of a Penitent Heart is a touching story about family secrets and denials. Filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo sets out to find out what really happened to her uncle, Miguel, who supposedly died of cancer. What she discovers is a family cover-up of Miguel’s homosexuality and the fact that he actually died of AIDS. Her exploration leads her to find Miguel’s lover, who was never accepted by the family. The man is still grieving and ends up meeting with Aldarondo’s mother/Miguel’s sister. Aldarondo also explores how religion and her family’s Puerto Rican culture led to their feelings about homosexuality. The film is expertly constructed with interviews, personal voiceovers, and home movies. I look forward to seeing more of Aldarondo’s work.

The Happy Film is an unusual personal exploration by filmmaker Stefan Sagmeister to figure out what makes us happy. After determining from a book author that happiness seems to be attained from either meditation, therapy, or medication, Sagmeister decides to spend a few months trying each. During that time, he falls in and out of love more than once and loses his director to illness. We watch as he goes through these emotional ups and downs, discovers some painful things about himself, and ends up on a prescription drug-induced high that’s difficult to recognize as such until he comes down from it. What he doesn’t find is a prescription for happiness, but his willingness to let us watch as he questions and stumbles is compelling and endearing.


2 responses to “Tribeca Film Fest: Diverse Docs on Sex Abuse Legislation, Family Secrets & Happiness”

  1. Vicki Henry Avatar

    Our organization, Women Against Registry, was also a participant in the documentary thanks to David, Adam and Jay. When you look at the number of registrants, 843,000 men, women and children (8 & 10 in some states) and then at their families who number over 3-million, you gain a better understanding of the far reaching collateral damage that ranges from homes being burned, property damaged, children being ostracized, called pedophiles, passed over for educational opportunities and even a wife murdered (Gretchen Parker – Jonesville SC) you begin to understand the damage resulting from laws based on fear instead of empirical evidence.

    Women Against Registry is comprised of a nationwide organized group of women who WILL HAVE OUR VOICES HEARD. We do not condone child abuse of any kind and fully support protecting children from sexual harm but consider child protection organizations such as Stop It Now as a better solution as they teach parents, children and teens the warning signs, grooming signs and basic awareness to prevent a person or child from being abuse in the first place.

    We assert that the Books lean more to the “it’s OK to tell” after the offense and want to bring to light the fact that Ron Book is a paid lobbyist for GEO Corp. which is the nation’s largest private prison company and based out of Boca Raton Florida.

    We are also puzzled that the Florida legislature awarded Lauren Book’s foundation 3.8 million dollars.

    Lastly, we reached out to Lauren Books organization prior to doing the @Rally in Tally last year to hopefully meet and collaborate to some degree but were ignored. The ‘olive branch’ offering we had planned at the end of the Book ‘Walk in My Shoes’ extravaganza was nixed by the Florida State Capitol Police Captain stating they (Books) had children involved in the event and the humorous thing was that one of our Florida registrant family children who had made a green poster with his other siblings saying “The laws you made to protect me have made me and my family homeless” was going to offer the @olive branch to Lauren Book at the finish line of their event.

    Vicki Henry, Women Against Registry

    1. mvotaw Avatar

      Thanks for weighing in, Vicki. I appreciate your perspective and information.

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