films that make a difference
Chosen is testament to the power of a compelling story, simply told. The film deals with a subject often whispered but rarely spoken about – the sexual abuse of boys by teachers in Britain’s private schools.
For thirty years the boys, and the men they became, stayed silent, nursing the dark secret of the abuse they suffered. But in this film, Tom, Mark and Alastair break that silence with spellbinding articulacy and breathtaking honesty - telling their stories straight to camera.
Standing apart from more tabloid models of talking about paedophilia, this film is sensitively told, allowing the men to talk directly about their experiences and the effect it has had on the rest of their lives.
Chosen reveals how these boys were groomed, how the private school system is poorly regulated, how abuse goes undetected, and why we need to listen.
Five years ago, the morning after a film I made, Dying for Drugs, had been broadcast on Channel Four, Tom Perry called our office at True Vision and said “We’d like you to tell our story.” That was the beginning of Chosen.
I met Tom, Alastair and Mark in the restaurant of a hotel near Heathrow a few weeks later, and after talking to them for an hour I was convinced that this was a film that had to be made. Not only did they have a tale of extraordinary injustice to tell, they were also the most articulate “survivors” of abuse I had ever come across. They had remarkable insights into how they were groomed, how their abusers broke the child/parent bond, how they were made to feel complicit and therefore guilty, and how the events that unfolded all those years ago have affected them for the rest of their lives. Finally, the three different outcomes to their attempts to seek justice so many years later offered the perfect ending to the story - complex and layered, but also a resolution of sorts, and a promise of hope and recovery at the end of a potentially dark and disturbing journey.
All three men have been incredibly brave, baring their souls in such an uncompromising way, and offering to take us into the heart of a secret so dark that they each kept it buried for several decades. I have the utmost admiration for their willingness to share their story in the hope that in its telling, other children may be spared a similar experience. As Alastair says, when talking about his decision to go the police, 30 odd years after he was abused, “If I could stop that happening to one child, then it would be worth it.”
DVD’s of Chosen with additional material aimed both at parents and at professionals working with children will be available soon. The extras are being prepared with the help of the Lucy Faithful Foundation and will help parents think about how to discuss the subject of paedophilia with their children, and how to approach their school and other organisations about child protection. The section for professionals will include material on safer recruitment, how to encourage children to report concerns, and how to identify suspect behaviour. This version of the DVD will be available on this website soon, but in the meantime, if you would like a DVD of just the film, click on http://truevisiontv.com/videos/index.htm
Brian Woods and his production company True Vision have won 7 Emmies, 5 BAFTAs, the Amnesty International Best Documentary Award, the Prix Italia Award and 2 Peabody Trust awards - amongst others - for their films. These Include:
Kids, Knives & Broken Lives (2008) – Channel 4
China’s Stolen Children (2007) - Channel 4/HBO
Evicted (2006) - BBC ONE
A World Without Water (2006) - Channel 4
Orphans of Nkandla (2005) - BBC TWO
Dying for Drugs (2003) - Channel 4
Slavery - A Global Investigation (2000) - Channel 4
The Dying Rooms & Return to the Dying Rooms - Channel 4/HBO
Details of all True Vision’s films can be found at: http://www.truevisiontv.com
CHOSEN was funded through a production grant from the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation. Set up in 2005, the Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, created by Channel 4 to support independent British documentary filmmaking. Part of this work involves giving grants and mentorship to documentary filmmakers with a burning story to tell.