Where and how do you live your life after a prison sentence? More specifically, where do you go if you are a sex offender from St. Petersburg, Florida? The answer is Florida Justice Transitions, a trailer park commonly known as Pervert Park.
The park is home to 109 sex offenders, of radically differing degrees. Some have done the worst things imaginable, some claim they were merely unlucky or victims of a trap set by the local police. These ex-cons and their stories, explanations, apologies and regrets are all part of the documentary "Pervert Park" by Danish-Swedish director couple Frida and Lasse Barkfors, the first film the couple has directed together.
"Pervert Park" premiered at CPH:DOX 2014 and was part of the 2015 World Cinema Documentary Competition at Sundance Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Award for Impact on Saturday, 31 January.
What is Normality?
In the film we follow the everyday lives of the ex-cons living in Florida Justice Transitions. Approaching the subject, the directors have sought to explore themes of normality and regret.
By telling their stories, the sex offenders are effectively making us hear different versions of their desire to be reintegrated into society, and the film delves into difficult questions such as: What do we understand by humanisation and the need to humanise oneself? Are there actions that we cannot – or should not – forgive? Either way, the Barklund couple want to show that there is more to it than the residents of the trailer park just being "evil."
"Pervert Park" is co-produced by Frida Barkfors and Anne Köhncke for De Andra (Sweden) and Final Cut for Real (Denmark) and has received support from the Danish Film Institute's Film Workshop.
A Selection of Sundance Reviews
"In providing room for such stories from nearly a dozen of the residents at Palace Mobile Home Park (an “adult community” operated by Florida Justice Transitions), the documentary broadens well beyond a portrait of this particular facility to address the underlying causes of these crimes and to question how society might more constructively deal with the issues." Read on in Variety
"If audiences went in thinking they’d be allowed to simply hate on and ridicule the offenders, they might have completely changed their minds by the time they come out 75 minutes later. In the best sense of the word, the film’s an eye-opener that completely demystifies what one would think goes on in a place the neighbors all call Pervert Park." Read on in The Hollywood Reporter
"Beautifully shot by Barkfors, the movie offers ample reminders of the residents' humanity. The filmmakers never venture too far away from the area, choosing to remain in the Florida Justice Transitions, to put the audience in the shoes of the residents. Edited with a consistently engaging pace, each resident has a chance to tell their story, which unfold against images of their daily lives. Read on in Indiewire