Six-times Oscar nominated film Spotlight hit the theaters in Australia on Thursday. The film is a reenactment of the 2002 investigation at the Boston Globe, which uncovered a wide-spread pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church. Directed by Tom McCarthy and with a screenplay by Josh Singer, the film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Liev Shreiber and Rachel McAdams as the tireless reporters who expose the scandal.
Director Tom McCarthy told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he is proud of what his film has achieved for victims of sexual abuse: “All those awards that you mentioned at the top of the show, it’s very exciting, but really whats incredibly gratifying is the response we keep hearing from around the world,” he said in the interview. “From survivors, from organizations, who say, “We finally have a voice, we finally have a platform.”
Ben Bradlee Jnr was the Deputy Manager at the Boston Globe at the time the scandal was uncovered, and tells the Independent that he never expected the demand for a film. “We thought we’d had our great reward with the Pulitzer,” he said, referring the Pulitzer Prize that the Boston Globe won for the story in 2003.
Spotlight will likely join 1976 film All the President’s Men, which chronicles the Washington Post’s exposure of the Watergate Conspiracy, as a great tale in media history. The Independent noted the irony that Ben Bradlee Snr, Bosten Globe editors father, was also an editor of the Washington Post during that time.
The Boston Globe was initially reluctant to allow the film to be made, when first approached back in 2008. “We were wary of what Hollywood might do to the tale,” explains Ben Bradlee Jnr. “There is no sex, there are no explosions. You look at it and ask: how do you make investigative reporting cinematic?”
With an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, it seems that McCarthy and the “ensemble cast” has done exactly that. However, Sacha Pfeiffer, the real-life reporter who inspired Rachel McAdams character, notes that the film also aims to support traditional investigative journalism and offer a boost to the struggling newspaper industry.
“I really hope this movie reminds people of how important investigative journalism is, and why it’s important to buy a newspaper,” she told CBC Radio. “Without it, we don’t have powerful institutions questioned as often as they should be.”
As Pfeiffer points out, the drawn-out investigation portrayed in Spotlight is a dying process – the deadline-powered world of internet news is impatient.
The film makers assure that the sexual abuse is not overly dramatized and the journalists not presented as glorified heroes. Rather, Spotlight is a film that captures the importance of traditional investigative reporting, and gives a voice to victims.