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Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exposes the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and a cover-up that winds its way from the row houses of Milwaukee Wisconsin, through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland's churches all the way to the highest office of the Vatican. By investigating the secret crimes of a charismatic priest who abused over 200 deaf children in a school under his control - the film shows the face of evil that lurks behind the smiles and denials of authority figures and institutions who believe that because they stand for good they can do no wrong.Written by
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From acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney, comes a potent examination of the history of sex abuse and paedophilia within the Catholic Church. Told through the eyes of victims, Gibney follows the murky trail of sex abuse from Wisconsin all the way up to the Vatican.
This is not for the faint hearted or easily disturbed. That we may understand the term 'documentary', speaks volumes of how successfully Gibney has reinvented the genre, creating something that is as much horror as it is non-fiction. We are plunged into the dark recesses of traumatic experience, and exposed to the sheer scope of institutionalised child molestation. Revelation after revelation, horror after horror, we witness very real and powerful emotion on screen, producing a 'documentary' that enthrals and terrifies.
The inclusion of Terry, Arthur and Gary, 3 victims integral to the first known case of protest against clerical sex abuse in the US, is a genuine masterstroke. This level of realism is perhaps expected of the documentary format, however, Gibney's overall production results in something much more effective. From confession-booth like interviews to complex animated graphics, Mea Maxima Culpa is educational yet highly creative. Aside from the cinematographic merits and qualities of story-telling, significant effort is made to defrock hidden truths of organised child molestation and the lengths taken to cover it up. The trail from the pulpits of Milwaukee to the highest echelons of the Vatican is made to seem more concrete than ever before.
Verdict: Expertly constructed and magnificently told, Mea disturbs ones very core. Gibney has exquisitely created an amalgam of documentary and horror with a profound respect to the stories of its protagonists. Prepare to be infuriated, terrified and astounded without rest. Essential viewing.
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