Photo: Frida and Lasse Barkfors.
Frida and Lasse Barkfors, the duo behind the new documentary "Pervert Park" which follows the lives of registered sex offenders living together in a Florida trailer park. Photo: Frida and Lasse Barkfors.

Prize-winning filmmaker: "It was a complete eye-opener for us"

Radio Sweden speaks to documentary filmmaker Frida Barkfors
9:14 min

Swedish/Danish filmmakers Frida and Lasse Barkfors have won a World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival for their film"Pervert Park", which follows the lives of a group of registered sex offenders living together in a Florida trailer park.

Pervert Park is the nickname given by locals to the trailer park, Palace Mobile Home Park, which is run by Florida Justice Transitions, and houses registered sex offenders struggling to reintegrate into society.

The park was set up in 1986 by the mother of a convicted sex offender who found that finding housing was really difficult for people like her son, especially in Florida where they are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of any place where children gather, such as schools.

Swede Frida Barkfors and her Danish husband Lasse, decided to make their documentary five years ago after reading a magazine article about the park, which after anti-clustering laws, is one of only a handful of its kind remaining in America.

In an interview with Radio Sweden from her home in Copenhagen, Frida Barkfors says they had to gain the trust of the sex offenders in order for them to tell their life stories.

"We went there to do research and spent a week sitting down with the sex offenders in group therapy and just hanging out with them, and they were quite suspicious at the time, although we gained their trust. But by doing that it was a complete eye-opener to us. The mainstream media picture of sex offenders wasn't to us connected to reality and we wanted to make a film about sex offenders because the issue is much more complex than it is treated today." 

Frida Barkfors says she hopes that people who go to see the film will keep an open mind.

"I would like people watching to feel the same way that we did, which is not one thing. You are not supposed to have one emotion, because it is complex. I am still struggling with what I encountered  in the park. I am angry at some of the people there but I also care for some of them, I was very moved and sad, so a lot of different emotions," she tells Radio Sweden.

The documentary has been shown in Denmark at the CPH:DOX and recently at Sundance, where it received critical acclaim. It has been bought by SVT in Sweden and DR in Denmark and the couple are hoping to get wider distribution.

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