Kirkwood Public Library will be screening the documentary, Procession, by documentary filmmaker and Mizzou professor Robert Greene on Sunday, May 22nd at 2:00 PM. The director and two subjects will attend virtually for a Q&A after the screening. Greene’s previous works, such as Kate Plays Christine and Bisbee ’17, garnered positive critical attention for their unique approach to documentary filmmaking, which combines elements of traditional documentaries—talking head interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage— with elaborate reenactments, subject participation in the filmmaking process, and a self-reflexive approach that acknowledges the role of the filmmaker.
In Procession, Greene takes his methods and techniques further than ever before. A group of six men, survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, work with Greene and Drama Therapist Monica Phinney to direct a series of scenes depicting their painful childhood memories. In doing so, Greene puts power in the hands of his subjects, elevating them to the role of co-directors with equal billing. This democratization of the documentary film-set decenters the director, allowing for the collaborative nature of filmmaking to become the primary “author” of events on-screen. The result is by equal measures illuminating and harrowing, a therapeutic exercise that both pulls the viewer into the experience of victims as directly as possible while allowing those same victims to define that experience.
Procession successfully positions reenactment, even ritual (as in Catholicism), as a transformative and enlightening experience, a tool not just for artistic illustration in documentary film, but something for the subjects of the film to undergo themselves in order to find deeper truths. While traumatic memories cannot be erased, and the film doesn’t quite set out to “heal” any wounds, it does clarify the experience of the six men in a way that gives them more control over their memories and a legible way to explain the emotional effects.