Cinema Review: Pervert Park | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, June 16th, 2021  

Pervert Park

Studio: The Film Sales Company
Directed by Frida and Lasse Barkfors

May 19, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Sex offenders are society’s cast-offs, the people looked down upon, detested, and also feared as a rule by the rest of the population. Each state handles its offenders differently, but the stain of a guilty verdict in a sex crime never goes away. Perpetrators are required to register as such, officially labeling them for the rest of their lives. They often find it next to impossible to secure stable or well-paying work upon release from prison. Relationships become untenable. They are often prohibited from living within a thousand feet (or more) of any place children are likely to congregate. They are also, in many instances, deeply troubled and misunderstood victims in their own right.

Nancy Morais knows how great an impairment a sex offender designation can be on a person’s life. After her son was released from prison—he was found guilty of a sex crime—he found it all but impossible to secure housing and work. Awash with emotion ranging from anger to frustration to a mother’s love, Nancy founded Florida Justice Transitions in 1990. It is a modest trailer park in Florida, home to about 120 offenders. It serves not only as a home for them, but as a community, as a means of reintegrating with society, and as a place of welcoming, comfort, and mutual support. In their unflinching and heartbreaking documentary, Scandinavian filmmakers Frida and Lasse Barkforshumanize interview sex offenders, and a half dozen incredibly brave, significantly troubled individuals reveal the people behind the label.

In Pervert Park, the severity of crimes ranges greatly; due to their nature, and the frank ways in which they are described, the film is neither for the young, nor for the squeamish. However, for those willing to set aside judgment and able to stomach the discussion, it is as illuminating as it is heartbreaking. In many cases, a sex offender was first a childhood victim of abuse—physical, mental, sexual, or any combination thereof—often perpetrated by friends or family. The behavior is learned early on and later passed on to other unfortunate children. The predominantly male residents of the trailer park are little exception. Though they might have exposed themselves to children, solicited lewd acts from minors, or (in one case) violently raped a young child, their own horrific past contributed to their adult crimes. (Perhaps the one conceivable exception is a 22-year-old PhD student who solicited sex from an of-age woman on the internet, who then suggested they invite her minor daughter to participate in the affair. Unaware it was a trap set up by police, and though not actively seeking sex with a minor, the man went over to the house and was arrested.) One of the few women captured on camera admits to having been lured into bed with her father before she was in second grade; the illicit activity continued for years, resumed when she was an adult, and led to her replicating the behavior with her then elementary school age son.

The Swedish-Danish documentarian couple’s decision to shed light on the park’s residents merits praise. Regardless of the judgment heaped upon their subjects, the Barkfors treat them with the humanity that they likely rarely if ever receive from the world at large. It is all the more unfortunate, therefore, that they called their film Pervert Park, as such a designation undermines the circumspect treatment of the Florida Justice Transitions community throughout the film’s 77-minute run-time. Title aside, Pervert Park is a rare and brutally honest exploration of one of society’s most detested elements.

Author rating: 6/10

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