Robert Greene is formally the director of “Procession,” an unclassifiable hybrid of nonfiction and drama wherein a bunch of now-grown survivors of childhood sexual abuse by monks take part in a collaborative filmmaking experiment, hoping to discover catharsis and closure. However the film provides the customary “a movie by” credit score to everyone who participated within the artistic course of onscreen, and it is a testomony to the sincerity of everybody concerned that it looks like the suitable factor to do.
Greene determined to do the movie after witnessing a televised 2018 press convention wherein three middle-aged Kansas Metropolis-area survivors of sexual abuse by monks acknowledged their intention to call 230 monks within the space who had participated in an organized little one intercourse trafficking ring working beneath the safety of the Catholic Church, which had an extended report (not simply in Kansas Metropolis) of enabling, ignoring, or barely disciplining abusers on their payroll. Greene contacted the boys’ lawyer, Rebecca Randles, and hooked them up with Monica Phinney, a “drama therapist” who teaches trauma survivors the way to use the methods of dramaturgy to rework emotions of victimization into empowerment. “Procession” is a report of the method and consists of snippets of a number of filmed scenes created by the survivors, who typically appeared on digital camera in each other’s initiatives.
Documentary aficionados might be reminded of Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” which gave members in the Indonesian genocide the prospect to make brief movies about themselves in hopes of a higher understanding of their psychology. Greene is on an ethically firmer floor right here by the advantage of getting given such a possibility to the victims of crimes somewhat than the perpetrators. However as “Procession” unfolds, you assume much less in regards to the ethical and aesthetic points concerned (that are by no means removed from Greene’s thoughts) than the transformative impact that the storytelling course has on these participating in it.
There’s Mike Foreman, a deep-voiced, casually profane man whose personal mom returned him to the house of the priest who molested him and made him ship a cake, and who now radiates barely-suppressed fury and listens to The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” obsessively. And there is Dan Laurine, a soft-spoken TV and movie areas supervisor with an extended gray beard who was raped by two monks throughout an unsupervised journey to a lake home. And Joe Eldred, who suffers dissociative episodes, and needs he may converse to his youthful self. There’s Tom Viviano, who says he cannot converse instantly about what occurred to him due to a then-ongoing authorized motion towards the church, however, is glad to do regardless of the others ask of him, even don the robes and collar and play the half of a kid rapist. And there is inside designer Michael Sandridge, who stays dedicated to his religion and the church regardless of his expertise, and infrequently comes throughout as Greene’s on-camera avatar, thoughtfully steering the opposite males in the direction of higher realizing their visions.
What all these males have in frequent is a shattered-and-pieced-together high quality. Most of them can barely even broach the topic of what occurred to them without spontaneously beginning to sob after which immediately and awkwardly recovering their composure and carrying on in what society advised them is a suitably manly style. The development of masculinity, and the code of silence that’s so typically woven into it, is available in for some harsh critique right here, although at all times obliquely, rising organically from the tales the survivors inform and so they artwork that they attempt to make from it.
That is an unrelentingly gripping and infrequently deeply disturbing movie that dares to visualize (with style and restraint) a few of the vilest habits the species is able to, and take the full measure of the psychic harm it inflicts on harmless victims. Nevertheless, it’s not a wallow in ache, as a result of the survivor’s management of each part of the train and leans on one another for help and inspiration all through the method.
And despite the fact that maybe a 3rd of “Procession” consists of imaginative (typically poetic) re-creations, and the remainder is in regards to the inventive, logistical, and psychological prep work required to get the survivors in the suitable headspace to work their magic, you by no means really feel as if the film is making an attempt to idiot you into considering that drama is truth. It is clear about what it is doing (one thing nearer to a report of what occurred throughout a filmmaking workshop than a standard documentary about issues that occurred) and there is by no means any hazard that the viewers will lose their bearings, as a result of Greene, who additionally edited the film, always reveals you the lights and scrims and growth microphones and different signifiers of artificiality or dramatization, and retains cross-cutting between re-creations of scenes and the survivors directing, performing, or helping of their creation, the higher as an instance what’s occurring to those males emotionally as they attempt to use artwork to reclaim their worst experiences, and assert mastery over what stays of their lives.
“Procession” is the fruit of Greene’s boundary-blurring options, which embody “Bisbee ’17,” “Actress,” “Kate Plays Christine,” and the one with the title that kinda sums all of it up the 2011 wrestling documentary “Fake It So Real.” “Actress,” which adopted “The Wire” actress Brandy Burre as she tried to re-enter the enterprise after briefly leaving it to lift a household, was full of what Greene known as “composed indie-film moments” that had been purported to have a “poetic” operate, getting at a deeper and extra elusive reality without complicated the viewers into considering they had been seeing one thing that simply spontaneously occurred. “Procession” has extra such moments and pictures than could be recounted right here, some seemingly picked out by Greene and his crew on-the-fly (similar to Mike contorting and bouncing on a basement rec-room sofa to “Behind Blue Eyes”) and others devised by the survivors, who attract such numerous inventive influences because the supernatural horror movie, the theatrical psychodrama, and Bob Fosse’s autobiographical musical-fantasia “All That Jazz.” (A re-enactment of the second proper earlier than a violation occurred in a priest’s bedroom is filmed on a stylized stage set the place the props, furnishings, partitions, and ground have been spray-painted heavenly white; it is paying homage to the purgatorial interview scenes in Fosse’s film the place the hero justifies himself to the Angel of Loss of life.)
Greene’s strategy conjures up a number of secondary resonances and notions alongside the way in which, together with the extent to which all identification is constructed after which carried out, and the eerie manner wherein life retains serving up symbols and metaphors that we’d criticize for being too on-the-nose if we encountered them in fiction (similar to Laurine’s fixation on a by accident damaged fishing rod given to him by one of many monks who raped him within the lake home). However, it’s to Greene’s nice credit score that these by no means overwhelm the principle level of the venture, which is to aim to heal and make entire 5 human beings who had been betrayed by an establishment that was purported to be a pressure for good of their lives, not by treating them as passive objects to be pitied, however by empowering them my artwork.