The final installment of this season’s Journalism Film Series is “Spotlight,” the story of the clash between two powerful New England institutions: the Catholic Church and The Boston Globe.
“Spotlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2016. It will be shown for free at 4pm on Sunday, February 25, at the Latchis Theatre. A discussion led by Randy Holhut of The Commons will follow. Donations are welcome.
The Globe wasn’t the first to uncover the story of rampant sexuasl abuse by priests of children in Boston but it was the only institution with the weight and the power to dare to take on and break the wall of silence put up by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. “All the President’s Men” used to be the gold standard for newspaper movies. Then came “Spotlight.” Richard Nixon was one thing; the pope was another.
This film shows the very unglamorous very difficult work of nailing down a story that is still shaking the foundations of the Catholic Church, as more people come forward to talk about what happened to them as youths.
This was a story the Globe’s Spotlight Team could safely ignore, given the power of the church in Boston. And if was not done to sell newspapers or for the greater glory of the Globe. It was done because there was a wrong that needed to be righted. The most powerful figure in a Catholic family’s life, the parish priest, in some cases turned out to be their worst nightmare come true.
The Globe’s Spotlight Team is an investigative team founded in the early 1970s. Their job is to take on powerful institutions and dig deep into stories that are complicated and often hidden. Over the last few decades it has won virtually every major journalism award, but of all the stories they’ve reported on, this was the story that was the most controversial, most heartbreaking, the most difficult. But a wall of silence was smashed and it gave the victims a modicum of relief or closure.
The Journalism Film Festival is put on by a coalition of the Friends of Brooks Memorial Library, Brooks Memorial Library, The Commons, the Brattleboro Reformer, the Vermont Humanities Council and the Latchis Theatre.