In March of 2002, Boston carpenter Gary Bergeron and his brother Joseph revealed to their parents that they had been sexually abused by Reverend Joseph E. Birmingham. Their declaration led dozens more to come forward that spring, but it was another voice in the summer that brought the cycle of abuse to a horrifying, full family-circle.
The Bergerons' dad, then 77, said that he too had been sexually abused by Birmingham as a child. In the aftermath, Gary would go on to found Survivors Voice U.S. and author the 2004 book Don’t Call Me A Victim. There was also, separately, a powerful 2007 PBS Frontline documentary about the Birmingham predatory trail.
On April 20th, another meaningful event will be added to this empowered chronology: an afternoon screening of the Bergerons' documentary BASTA at the 2014 Boston International Film Festival. The film, which takes its title from the Italian word for "enough," is anchored around footage taken by Gary during two trips to the Vatican in 2003 and 2010.
During the 2003 trip, Bergeron, his father and another Birmingham abuse survivor tried unsuccessfully to meet with Pope John Paul II. However, they were able to connect with the Vatican's Secretary of State and when Gary returned to the principality seven years later, it was for an international gathering of childhood sexual abuse survivors.
"The goal of BASTA is to provide the audience an opportunity to travel on the decade-long journey through the eyes of someone who has moved from being a childhood victim to an adult survivor," says Bergeron. "Our hopes are that this film will engage society in a conversation that is long overdue. The Boston International Film Festival’s decision to premiere the film on Easter Sunday, is perhaps divine intervention."