Monday, February 1, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: Their story stunned a city. Their courage changed the world

Break the story. Break the silence
Their story stunned a city. Their courage changed the world.
The true story behind the scandal that shook the world.

In existence since the 1970s, Spotlight is the investigative reporting unit of the Boston Globe. They can spend months on a single story, which they choose amongst themselves. As such, they are somewhat autonomous from the rest of the newspaper, only needing to report to their superiors. As a rule, they are not to discuss their work with anyone else, whether it be family, friends or other staff at the newspaper. In 2001, the four person team consists of its editor Walter Robinson - Robby to his friends - and his three investigative journalists, Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll. Robby reports to the assistant managing editor, Ben Bradlee Jr.. Upon his arrival from his most recent position in Florida, Marty Baron, the newly hired editor-in-chief, requests Spotlight to place their current story on hold and instead flesh out a story by a fellow Globe columnist Eileen McNamara about sexual abuse allegations of a Catholic priest against a minor, and what seems to be the cover-up by Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archdiocese of Boston. They are at first hesitant to work on the story, seeing Baron as an outsider to Boston, he who doesn't understand what is important to locals. Baron's outsider status includes not being born and raised there, and not being Catholic (he being the Globe's first Jewish editor-in-chief). 

Their first task is to see if they can have some court documents on the case unsealed, which means suing the Catholic church, success which is no easy task. Beyond that one step, Robby and his team talk to lawyers who have or are working on alleged sex abuse cases perpetrated by Catholic priests in Boston (those lawyers including Eric MacLeish and Mitchell Garabedian), known victims (such as Phil Saviano, the head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)) and insiders in the Catholic church. Through this investigation, they get wind that the problem is not contained to one priest and one victim, in essence changing the focus from the priest(s) to the systemic problem of the Archdiocese not only covering up the abuse but in reality doing nothing to stop it and thus condoning it. Their goal is not only the end product of an important story, but making sure that the other major local newspapers, such as the Boston Herald, do not beat them to the scant outline of the story in the public consciousness which the Catholic church could easily quash. Through it all, they may come to some unpleasant realizations that not only the Archdiocese and the Catholic church in general are to blame for what happened.

Director:                Tom McCarthy
Screenplay:           Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
Stars:                       Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John                               Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, Billy Crudup and Stanley Tucci
Genre:                      Drama, Thriller
MTRCB Rating:    R16 (Children below 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult)
Running Time:     2 hours and 7 minutes
Released by:          Solar Pictures

Official website:

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