Hot and as widespread as today’s disturbing headlines: sexual abuse within the Catholic Church that has traumatized thousands. The worse are the cover ups the church is responsible for in order to protect their own and their institution. Many docs and fiction films have been made on this sensitive topic and PREY is yet another, and powerful one of them.
PREY opens with a shot of a man dressed up in a tie and suit. He is Rob Tallach, a Civil Lawyer. He is nicknamed the priest hunter as he hunts down these priests perpetuators that prey on young boys. And he has quite a number of cases to his credit. Many have only recently come forward to speak publicly, while others have been silenced through settlements. One of the perpetrators, Father Rod Marshall, (interviewed in the movie when he was still alive) pled guilty to 17 assault charges; a colleague, Father David Katulski, called him a “very good pedophile.” One of his victims, seeking closure for this traumatic part of his childhood, filed suit against the Basilian Fathers of Toronto for its role in enabling Marshall’s depravity. As the case moves through the courts—led by “the priest hunter,” lawyer Rob Tallach—the silence the Catholic Church fought so vigorously to maintain is broken.
Director Matt Gallagher opens a channel for those brave survivors who are willing to provide testimony, culminating in a powerful damnation of an institution that must be exposed and held to account.”
PRAY OR PREY? The purpose of the film is to open the window, to check the record straight and to give the punitive damages back to the victims. The church allows children to continually be abused, as the doc attests.
There are actually three films that could have been made. A film could be made with the subject of Rob Tallach, maybe titled THE PRIEST HUNTER, where he discuses all his cases. Another could be the examination of the Catholic Church at how many cases they have covered up, or settled out of court. And the third of the various victims. In the case of PREY, director Gallagher tackles all there – quite a feat. While touching the surface of these three topics, he could have created more anger in his film against the Catholic Church of the abuse done over the century. But he lets the facts tell the story.
PREY follows one survivor and his lawyer as they pursue justice through a public trial in the hopes of forcing the dark and hidden story of clergy sexual abuse to light. Being a local story set in Toronto, it still fills with global resonance.
The film is partly courtroom drama. Everyone loves a solid courtroom drama and PREY provides one of the best. The abuser, Father Hod Marshall, makes his presence known at the civil trial in the form of a haunting video deposition taken before his death. The video had been sealed from public view until now. But this trial was not about guilt or innocence, but about how much money the church should pay in compensation for the devastating fallout from the abuse. The climax of the film is the verdict. The film (not revealed this review) gos one more disturbing step after this.
Special One Night Screening Presented by TVO
September 25 – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Panel Discussion | Q+A will follow with Subjects and Director