Despite its lurid nickname, Pervert Park seems like a nice place to live. Formally known as Florida Justice Transitions, the Park houses 120 adults who are trying, despite enormous obstacles, to make a life.
Each is a registered sex offender, which means there are very few places where they can legally live and even fewer people — potential employers or friends; their own families — who will offer them recognition as human beings. Through careful listening, directors Frida and Lasse Barkfors offer a series of compassionate and compelling portraits of the residents of Pervert Park; the film is a softly gleaming counternarrative to the conventional news cycle of panic and fear.
Common to most of the residents’ stories is a history of trauma and a bad decision. Stated so simply, it’s hard to deny: Those are not uncommon experiences, but not many of us get branded as perverts. So what happened? The directors let their subjects, and the statistics, speak for themselves. The interviews are anchored by scenes from a regular group-therapy session held at the housing complex, which ties each individual story back to the community and its shared struggles.
The Barkfors’ subtle camerawork captures stunning still images of their subjects even as they speak of having committed horrifying acts or enduring abuse as children. Pervert Park reveals a linked chain of incidents; we are all connected whether we admit it or not. What if we all lived in communities where the people around us agreed to help us get better, rather than blaming and shaming us for our transgressions?
Directed by Frida and Lasse Barkfors
Distributed by the Film Sales Company
Opens May 20, IFP’s Made in NY Media Center