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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #26: Frida and Lasse Barkfors Tackle The Taboo Subject of Sex Offenders in ‘Pervert Park’

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #26: Frida and Lasse Barkfors Tackle The Taboo Subject of Sex Offenders in 'Pervert Park'

Pervert Park” is a film that follows a group of sex offenders as they struggle to integrate back into society. It’s a hard look at some of the hardest to look at criminals, and with this documentary, Frida and Lasse Barkfors manage to pull off the deceptively difficult task of portraying both the offenders and their offenses in as truthful and unflinching manner as possible.

What’s your film about, in 140 characters or less?

It’s about Florida Justice Transitions – a trailer park in which a group of sex offenders try to reintegrate into society. 

Now, what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about crimes that are often too painful or uncomfortable to discuss and about the stigma that comes with it. It’s about the people behind the crimes, people that no one wants as a neighbor, and therefore have been moved out of our society. Although many of their crimes are unspeakable, the film questions what we as a community gain from our willful silence. Regardless of how heartbreaking and difficult it might be, can we curb the cycle and culture of sexual violence by exploring the lives of sex offenders?

Tell us briefly about yoursel(ves).

We are a married couple from Sweden (Frida) and Denmark (Lasse), based in Copenhagen. Lasse graduated from the Royal Danish Art Academy, and Frida studied directing fiction at the National Film School of Denmark. “Pervert Park” started out four years ago, just because we wanted to try out working together. We planned for it to be done in six months, and we naively didn’t count at all on it being as important to us as it has, making it impossible to leave the film even though both years passed and money lacked. Our taste in film is very different, but making “Pervert Park” has been surprisingly easy; we’ve always agreed on how to do it and can count the past four years’ arguments on two fingers. Work-related, that is… 

What was the biggest challenge in completing this film?

There is one bigger than others: balancing the two factors of treating the offenders with respect without minimising their crime. How could we listen to their stories without offending the victims of sexual abuse or excuse what they did? Could we contribute something to the debate or is there a meaning behind the stigma? We wanted to make an honest portrait of what we met in the park, as it wasn’t anything we had seen portrayed in mainstream media before. 

What do you want audiences at Sundance to take away from your film?

We hope that the film will challenge the audience and spark a debate on a very complex social issue that is not only American, but worldwide. 

What’s next for you?

Since we like working together, we have a new documentary project about another taboo that we start filming early 2015. The film takes place in the US. Both of us also make fiction films, and are currently working on our own fictional feature films. 

What cameras did you shoot on?

Canon C300. 

Did you crowdfund?

We couldn’t really see how to crowdfund a film about sex offenders, as we had already experienced how hard it was to convince finaciers what we wanted to do. So no, unfortunately not. 

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. Click here for more profiles.

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