Tell Anyone and I’ll Kill You – Rewind (BFI London Film Festival Review)

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In one of the most heart-breaking yet inspiring documentaries in recent years, Sasha Neulinger revisits his father’s vast number of home videos to attempt to piece together the sexual abuse he received from family members starting at the age of 3 years old.

The bravery shown here by Neulinger is almost unparalleled as he searches through the hundreds of hours of tapes while explaining the horrors he and his sister were forced through by those in trusted positions in his close family. Interviews with his loving father, mother and sister, plus footage of his uncles Howard, a prominent caster in the New York synagogue who sang for the Pope, Larry and cousin Stuart, paint the picture of how abuse can take place under the very noses of those whose job it is to protect their children from it.

Neulinger was a bright pupil, earmarked for extra help in pre-school due to his high intellect, who suddenly started to develop learning and behavioural difficulties soon after joining school. As we find out, the difference starts the moment he starts to be abused, an instant indicator of how this type of abhorrent abuse can instantly affect young people. The ability for them to come forward is crushed by guilt and the threats by their abusers. Neulinger himself became engulfed in self-hatred and attempted to throw himself out of a moving car on several occasions.

Rewind is not an easy watch, but the bravery and confidence of Neulinger inspire constant encouragement throughout. The film constantly questions how this came about, especially as it starts to investigate the historical evidence of abuse, both sexual and emotional, throughout generations of the family. Once you start to see that the abusers were victims of abuse themselves, you realise what a terribly complex problem this is to unravel.

Neulinger also shows the different experiences in the judicial system between those with power and money and those without, and how people become almost untouchable based on their place in society.

Rewind is as important a documentary as you are likely to watch and hats off to the bravery of not only Sasha but his sister and parents for bearing their souls so amazingly on camera. The movie ends with the fact that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer some kind of abuse by the age of 18. A sobering thought.

Dir: Sasha Joseph Neulinger

Cast: Sasha Joseph Neulinger, Henry Neulinger, Rebekah Neulinger

Prd: Thomas Winston, Avela Grenier, Sasha Joseph Neulinger, Robert Schneeweis, Shasta Winston

DOP: Rick Smith, Jeff Dougherty

Music: T. Griffin

Country: USA

Year: 2019

Run Time: 86 minutes

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