Film about sex offenders wins best new documentary director award at Tribeca Film Festival

By Jonathan Leaf . . . Why would a law mandate that ex-convicts be homeless and virtually unemployable? And what sort of government imposes such rules?

That’s the question of David Feige’s startling new documentary “Untouchable,” a Tribeca Film Festival award winner.

I must note here that I am not completely objective about this film. I have known Feige for many years and was briefly a collaborator with him on a TV pilot project. At the same time I watched the movie with certain prejudices and experiences which made me instinctively hostile and resistant to its message.

Feige’s subject is America’s present set of policies with respect to convicted sex offenders. But, while the film is broadly arguing for a wholesale reassessment of these mechanisms of control, the director has great sympathy for the families of those victimized by sex offenders and for their desire for retribution.

In fact, that’s where his story starts: with powerful Florida lobbyist Ron Book and his daughter Lauren and their account of how she was molested and tortured by an immigrant housekeeper. Then Feige travels around Tampa with Judy Cornett, a working class mother whose son was kidnapped and raped by a local pedophile. Cornett has organized a patrol that seeks to protect neighborhood kids. Feige is an avuncular personality, and he wins his subjects’ trust and his remarkable interviews offer us a deeply affecting view of their heartbreak. (See full article in Forbes Online)

someone outside of NARSOL

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15 Thoughts to “Film about sex offenders wins best new documentary director award at Tribeca Film Festival”

  1. AvatarRichard

    Is this the start of something??

  2. FredFred

    I will have to watch it, but I am getting the impression that it not going to highlight many of the ordeals RSOs have to face. It sounds like it is more about the victims of sexual abuse. . What is the best way to watch it?

    1. I saw the film at Tribeca and did an extensive interview with the director and editor/writer, posted at my blog Unfortunately the film has not yet been picked up for either theatrical or broadcast distribution. I suspect that, because it is SO well made, it will find a home sooner rather than later, but as the title suggests, the subject matter is taboo and deeply personal, as well as extremely complex, which will make finding a mainstream audience difficult. In my interview with him, David Feige said “I made this film for exactly the reasons that nobody would fund it.”

      He also says “There are lots of people who are willing to take on certain issues – innocence, the death penalty, the drug war. All of these things already have a built in constituency and already have a lot of people who are willing to write and talk and make movies about them. In a way, they are the low-hanging fruit of the criminal justice reform discussion. This is not.” But Feige was committed to honestly exploring the most difficult and complex questions, and I think this film does an impressive job.

      So, no; this is not mostly sympathetic to sex-crime victims. It is equally sympathetic (sensitive is a better word) to ALL people in the film and all sides of the issue, and opposing views are represented with meticulous accuracy and fairness. But it is not an attack film. It is not a polemic. It is a film that asks profound questions about what it means to be human. The objective of the film is not to take down Ron Book; the subject is much bigger than just one man. But if you watch the film, it definitely takes the viewer on a journey — moving from the conventional to the unexpected, and it does challenge assumptions and shed new light. And it ultimately packs a powerful punch. I personally found it to be highly unsettling, and it made me interested in the subject overall. And besides inspiring me to write about it, I keep talking about it, because the film makes the subject COMPELLING — not offensive.

      So don’t be put off by a few clips taken out of context. The film deserves watching — by both victims and perpetrators (and yes, the film understands the difficulty in labeling which is which), and so will audiences, if they ever get a chance to see this courageous film.

    2. AvatarPaul

      Highly Helen,

      Thank you for sharing your insight from your personal contact with David. I feel like I have a much better sense of the film. It sounds like this would be the perfect film for Independent Movie Theaters. Better yet, it would be nice if HBO picked it up. I really hope to see it!

  3. AvatarJR


    Film festival screenings are generally done to raise interest either to market independently or more importantly to get a distribution deal.

    If a film gets a distribution deal the movie will likely be released for theaters within a year but can at times take longer.

    If the film does not lend itself well to theater showings on a wide scale it may get better digital distribution through services such as Netflix, Google Play, Amazon, etc.

    It’s most likely that the general public will but see this movie until the end of this year or early 2017.

    You can Go to for a review of the movie.

  4. AvatarEmil S

    The hypocrisy of this country is clearly seen in this news article, where minors take their nude selfies and the law wants to go after men.

    1. AvatarLessons learned perhaps....

      Sounds like someone learned some lessons from the Canon City High School deal in Canon City, CO where kids were doing similar, but the DA was head huntin’ for charges.

  5. Avatard

    Yeah…my impression too Fred. I sure do hope it’s a fair accounting of what’s really going on. From the trailer, my impression was Ron Book sounds like another John Walsh. Skeptical, but hoping the film can shine some light on the way our sex crime hysteria is destroying lives.

    1. I already wrote a long comment below, but I will add one thing: There are no monsters in this film, and also there are no heroes. And director David Feige does not sit in judgment of anyone, nor does he advocate for or against anything. But he does crack open the mass of misinformation and misunderstanding that surrounds this issue and then intricately examines the shards. For more:

  6. AvatarPaul

    I heard David interviewed about this film. I haven’t seen the documentary but my sense is that he tried to balance the views of people like Ron Book with that of the impracticality of the laws. In the interview, David was asked what Book felt about the documentary when he saw it and he said Book was pleased with it. As I understand it, Book is at least partly responsible for the conditions in Miami Dade where individuals live beneath freeway underpasses and in Miracle Village in the Everglades, because almost all of South Florida is off limits to them. Derek Logue of Once Fallen said he wasn’t overly impressed with the film and didn’t feel it was worth the $25 ticket he purchased to see it. But I don’t know……I’ll be interested to see it when it has wider distribution.

    1. AvatarTara

      This interview was a huge leadway for Derek and I. Recently, we have spoken about going down there to delve more into this issue. Because of the controversy over the tuttle causeway, they have started a “camp” for sex offendets. We were looking into the “better” ways this is helping us. I feel its not. But until I met Derek, I felt like fighting this cause was useless. Then he told me about this site and I tend to read all the articles. Sometimes unsure of how to respond because it makes me sick, the way we are treated

  7. FredFred

    After reading this interview, I have to say this sounds like something that will do us a lot of good. He is promoting facts and evidence and debunking myth. He clearly does not shy away from controversial subjects and is not concerned with public backlash. I sure hope this film can find a distributor soon so we can all watch it.

  8. Wow this film does say a lot. I wonder if its to scare anyone to make note of update of “stranger danger” that we all learned in grade school I have mixed view’s on this whole documentary.
    I just wish someone would do a documentary of the “Ministers of Good” that is in the bible. I think we would all like to know who the Ministers of Good are in the justice system. Setting one up is not the way. I don’t care if there is a Lolita documentary or a little mermaid documentary Don’t get me wrong but I think this who documentary brings a scare or a wake up call to some in big cities. There is going to be crime as well as the sun rises in the morning.
    To me the short paints a Lolita picture of some kids because mommy dresses the kids up as paper dolls or something.
    Come on people were adults ok. When I was a kid I thought like a kid but now that I’m an adult I think like an adult but when someone scam’s me, that’s when I have to say who’s protecting me or you. So I’m glad he got an award. Life goes on.

  9. AvatarMark

    I haven’t seen the film. I don’t think there is any hope of reason when it comes to this topic.It is complex. The best I. Could say is that the faults lie in our lawmakers creating laws that are broadly applied, yet the scope of offenses and offenders is too varied to be accurately dealt with. Some offenders require strict management, most don’t. To determine the differences is tricky. Nobody wants to make a mistake resulting in blame, so the errors are on the side of caution.

  10. Avatarrpsabq

    Change will happen just as soon as the research has enough data to prove without a doubt that sex offender registries and public shaming for life make our communities less safe and actually perpetuate the problem. It will take the right citizen asking the right lawmaker this question: WAIT A MINUTE, IF ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE SO DANGEROUS WHY ARE THEY PLACED IN SOCIETY? AND WHY HAVE YOU PLACED “DANGEROUS PEOPLE” IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS WITHOUT ALLOWING THEM ACCESS TO FAMILY, JOBS AND RESOURCES? ARE YOU ALL CRAZY?! It will be this question that will force them to see how bad this is NOT for just for sex offenders but FOR ALL OF US.

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