‘Procession’ director Robert Greene on how dramatic recreations led to ‘deeper truths’

Netflix’s documentary “Procession” tells the story of six adult men who were abused as children by the Catholic church and the lengths they go to in order to heal. With the help of actors, therapists and a little Hollywood magic, the men recreate their memories and nightmares as a sort of unique approach to therapy. “[We use] recreations or staged scenes as a way to kind of get to some other deeper truths,” director Robert Greene tells Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Documentary panel (watch the exclusive video interview above).

He explains further, “Why am I making this if I’m not going to be trying to help the people that actually agree to participate in the film? And then for the recreations, it really comes down to this: giving power back to survivors is something that so few people can do, and actually making a movie is one way to do that. These scenes are all part of this broader thing. Making a movie can be fun and it can be empowering.”

Greene reveals that “Procession” is heavily influenced by drama therapy, which he describes as “the intentional use of theater and role-play and other art practices for therapeutic goals.” While he doesn’t think everyone with mental trauma needs to go out and make a movie, he highlights the six men in his project as being “exceptional.” They were cast by their lawyer, Rebecca Randles, because “she knew them, she knew that they could handle it, she knew that they could get something out of it.”

From the beginning, Greene and his crew knew that the well-being of the participants was the number one priority. “Retraumatization is a complicated thing,” he admits. “As filmmakers and as partners/collaborators with these guys, we have to do everything we can to make it be as safe as possible. So that includes having a therapist, that includes having family members.” However, he adds that he didn’t want to “handle these guys with kid gloves” because in a way that would be “contributing to the silence.”

Also in our exclusive video interview, Greene talks about Terrick, the young actor cast to play younger versions of the men, and how the challenging aspect of the movie made him feel like he was “on the edge of something at all times.”

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