Friday, October 21, 2016

Back To The 'Spotlight'

The Boston Globe investigative reporter Michael Rezendes talks about 'Spotlight', the Oscar award-winning film, about child sex abuse by Catholic priests, which is being premiered on Sony TV this Sunday

Photos: Mark Ruffalo and Michael Rezendes; the poster of the film

By Shevlin Sebastian
I was surprised that the film [Spotlight] became a worldwide hit,” says Boston Globe investigative reporter Michael Rezendes, by phone from his newspaper office. “Think about it: this is a movie that has no car chases, no explosions, no guns, no sex and, yet, it became incredibly successful.”

The film focused on the five-month investigation, by the 'Spotlight' team of the Boston Globe, into the child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, over several years. The team included Michael, Walter Robinson (editor of the 'Spotlight' team), Sacha Pfeiffer, Ben Bradlee Jr. and Matt Carroll. It won the group the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. “We are grateful that our editor Marty Barron pushed us to find out the truth,” says Michael. “Without Marty, none of this would have happened.”

Asked the reasons behind the film's success, Michael says, “The movie is structured like a thriller. And you get caught up, as a viewer, in the investigation. It was an incredible cast. People like Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel MacAdams, Stanley Tucci, Brian D’Arcy James and John Slattery are incredibly talented actors. For them, this was a film that mattered. They were also excited about playing characters who are alive, and whom they could meet personally and observe closely.”

As to whether Mark Ruffalo portrayed him correctly, Michael says, “Yeah, my friends told me that he had nailed me neatly.”

Director Tom McCarthy and screenwriter John Singer also wrote an excellent script. “It was no accident that they won the Academy award for best screenplay,” says Michael. “But I did not think it would be so successful.”

The film, made on a budget of $20 million, grossed $88 million worldwide. It won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay in 2016. Now, television viewers in India will be able to see it on Sony Le Plex HD on Sunday, October 23, at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, for Michael, the response continues to be overwhelming. “I was contacted by thousands of people who told me how much they loved the movie,” he says. “It was a beautiful experience. I also heard from survivors of sex abuse who told me that the film allowed them to come to terms with what happened to them. They could move on with their lives. 'Spotlight' has been a movie that has changed people.”

But Michael is not sure whether abuse has stopped within the church. “They have taken a few steps, but they need to do far more, to stamp it out,” he says.

Today, Michael carries on his good work, as a member of the 'Spotlight' team. The group is busy doing an investigation into the inadequacy of the mental health care system in Massachusetts.

But he does sound gloomy about the future of the print media. “Newspapers in the US are having a hard time making money,” he says. “I don’t have an idea of how the media is going to evolve, in future, but there is a lot of experimentation going on. For a long time we had looked at advertising earnings, but now it could be subscription revenue.”

Finally, asked to give tips for aspiring investigative reporters, Michael says, “You have to be dogged, persistent and a person who never gives up. And you have to really want to get to the truth.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

No comments:

Post a Comment