Rape victim's family says new film has her reliving trauma

3:38 min

The mother of a girl who was raped says the new Swedish film "Flocken" is like the family being raped all over again.

Last week, the film Flocken (Flocking as international title) opened at the box office. It's about a young girl who is raped by a fellow student in a school bathroom, and whose story is then questioned by the whole village.

The film has had very good reviews and was nominated for an award at Berlin Film festival earlier this year. It has been called a chilling study into pack mentality and the effects of internet bulling - portraying how a whole community looses sight of its sense of justice. "Not a popcorn-movie" as Swedish Radio's critic described it.

Several components in the film are strikingly similar to what happened in little Bjästa in northern Sweden in 2009. Just like in the film, the 14-year-old girl in Bjästa was raped in a school bathroom by a fellow student. A year after it happened, the story was told in a documentary by Swedish Television's investigative programme Uppdrag Granskning.

The documentary included the footage from the end of term at Bjästa school, when the boy - by then convicted of rape - hands out flowers to the girls in the class, and gives them a hug. It tells the story of the relentless cyber bullying, with adults taking active part and of how large parts of the school went on strike to support the boy.

When the documentary was broadcast there was an outrage, not least at the interview with the Bjästa village priest, who praised the boy for his courage to come and hand out the flowers, while saying nothing in support of the girl, who felt too uncomfortable to show up on the day.

Now, five years on, the film Flocken also contains a scene of a boy who has raped and is handing out flowers, it tells the story of online bullies, and a mother active in a smearing campaign against a girl that no-one wants to see as a victim. And there's a priest who takes sides, imploring the girl that it is important to speak the truth and not to tell tales.

Writing in the tabloid Aftonbladet, the mother of the girl raped in Bjästa urges people not to go and see the film.

"Since the basic story is so strikingly similar to reality, the parts that are made up will be seen as a description of real events too," she writes.

The mother objects to being depicted as an alcoholic who blames her daughter for destroying her life, she is upset that her partner is described in the film as having an incestuous relationship with his stepdaughter. "None of this is true of course," she writes and blames the people behind the film for trying to make money out of other people's misfortune.

She is concerned for her daughter who has to be reminded of what happened, and worries that the people who harassed her then will do so again. She says she welcomes a debate about rape and how to better support rape victims, but asks people not to see the film, as it will be like raping her daughter all over again.

Agneta Fagerström-Olsson is the producer of Flocken. She says the family got in touch and wanted to see the film, and they had no problems in showing it. But they never felt that they needed to get a permission from the family for the film, as it is not just based on what happened in Bjästa, but on many different stories of similar nature.

"The tragic thing is that this is not a unique case, this is a hell that girls and women contine to live with all the time," she told Swedish Radio News.