A mother's son is convicted as a sex offender. The journey to re-enter society after his prison release is where the film Pervert Park gets it roots. The mother's effort to save her son's dignity results in establishing the private institution, The Florida Justice Transitions. It's a trailer park known as Pervert Park. Founded because the son could not find a place to live once out of prison. The film's Scandinavian directors Frida and Lasse Barkfors say, "These are the people no one wants to live amongst. These are the neighbors we wish away ... to the outskirts of our towns and our lives.”
Sex offenders are not allowed to live within 1000 feet of places frequented by children. Finding areas where children do not frequent is tough. Pervert Park is home to 120 convicted sex offenders. It's a safe place. A haven of rest that beats living under a bridge or in the woods.
The institution's name alone is meant to bring hope for justice and belief that people can change.
The film Pervert Park introduces us to individuals who have committed crimes from a simple misdemeanor to horrific acts difficult to comprehend. They all have names. Bill, Jamie, Tracy and Patrick are just a few who tell their story.
The documentary filmmakers for Pervert Park Frida and Lasse Barkfors visited The Florida Justice Transitions in 2010. Drawn to the complexity of appropriate housing for the convicted sex offenders the filmmakers bring light to the uncomfortable topic. The Barkfors choose to showcase aspects of culture about people (like sex offenders) who are forced to hide under a bushel because society gives them no choice. These filmmakers have a mission. They explain, "We aim to describe the complexity in a world so often pictured as one-dimensional". Society must take the next step and engage in the realities.
In 2014, the Barkfors founded a Swedish production company, De Andra ("the other ones"). The name is purposefully chosen. Their work is to describe difficult social subjects using the art of storytelling through film. Similar to their documentary Pervert Park they say, "These are the crimes that are often too painful or uncomfortable to discuss". Once a light is shed on the subject matter a caring society is compelled to respond. In some positive way.
The Sundance Film Festival 2015 opened the door for the Barkfors film to be recognized by thousands of festival attendees. A statement was made by the film winning two festival awards:
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact &
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Unparalleled Access
I was approached by the film's publicist after the press screening for a response. I was deeply moved by the film and its message. I could hardly speak. The reasons are many for those who wear the tag of a sex offender given by our judicial system--both just and unjust. I had many questions as to my responsibility toward "the other ones.” Am I able to help outcasts regain a positive re-entrance into society? If I choose to have a role, what should that look like?