It won’t surprise you to know that I love films, and this month I’m going to be talking about a few of my favourite films in more detail.
The first is my all-time favourite – Spotlight.
It’s a film which I’m teased about constantly by my family yet this film speaks to my experience when I was an investigative tv journalist. Working in current affairs I was part of an investigative team which told ‘bigger’ stories, highlighted injustice and shone a light into dark places. Our team at ITV (now ITV Westcountry) was undoubtedly one of the best in the UK at that time. Others followed our lead and national tv often took one of our regional documentaries and put it on the national stage – using our case studies & experts.
Spotlight came out in 2015, starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams Leiv Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci.
Based on a true story, this film is a very real representation of what being part of an investigative team of journalists looks like. Teamwork, donkey work behind the scenes trawling through piles of paperwork, revisiting stories and documents where others have missed important details, persuading people to talk to you about difficult things.
This film follows the activities of a group of reporters from the Boston Globe who revealed the extent of paedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church and the extent to which it was covered up. It started a ripple world-wide which showed pure evil within that religion globally. These were the journalists who truly gave a voice to those who were silent, invisible, shunned as nutters and ignored. They shone a light on one of the greatest cover-ups in history.
Spotlight as an investigative reporting unit in the Boston Globe had been in existence since the 1970s. Working on just one story can last months, or even years, where they work as an autonomous group, separate from the rest of the newspaper – only reporting to their superior.
They don’t talk to any other people about the investigation they are working on and they work as a tight-knit group who look after each other.
The team of four, had a new editor-in-chief, who asked them to place the project they were working on, on hold and dig deeper into a story written by another Globe reporter, about allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a Catholic priest, and what appeared to be the cover up by the then local Archdiocese of Boston.
Initially, the reporters weren’t too keen, because their new editor was an outsider to Boston, and they thought he didn’t understand what was important to locals. Once they started digging and researching, they found that the problem was not just contained to a few priests and a couple of victims, but something far darker and deeper.
I obviously wasn’t the only person to enjoy this film – it won Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Writing, Original Screenplay; was nominated for Best performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Ruffalo), Best performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Rachel McAdams), Best Achievement in Directing (Tom McCarthy) and Best Achievement in Film Editing (Tom McArdle) at the 2016 Oscars.
The film was also a winner in the BAFTA Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and many other prestigious awards throughout 2015 and 2016.
Also, twelve years earlier, the Spotlight Team of the Boston Globe won the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service and rightly so. Their work gave hope to the hopeless and opened the world’s eyes to something which was rotten and in plain sight.
This group of journalists broke the news locally, but sadly, the scale paedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church and other churches still continues globally today.