Documentary Review: ‘Rewind’

Review by Lisa Payne

Imagine all major family celebrations being videotaped from your earliest moments after birth. Let that sink in.

“The camera immediately became a wall between Henry and the family.” – Jacqui Neulinger

From the moment Jacqui said this, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach. I was not in the US when this was happening, so I don’t remember the story. Therefore, this played like a horrific thriller. I thought I knew where this was going.

Sasha, now – grown man, but once a gifted and intuitive child, goes through the family memories via video, and starts to remember things.

That isn’t where this headed at all. From the moment I knew we weren’t going there, I stopped trying to predict what would happen. What unfolded was a tale of systemic familial childhood sexual abuse that spanned two generations.

Rewind is a devastating documentary. There is real-time footage of the time, plus Sasha’s notes and drawings from his sessions with Dr. Lustig added context and texture for a fuller picture.

My heart was so heavy watching this, and I experienced a rising dread. Sasha changes from a loving son and brother to a troubled soul who acts out because he is internalizing the abuse. Children should never have to deal with type of behavior by a trusted adult.

“If you tell, I will kill you.” – Uncle Howard

“I didn’t feel loveable.” – Sasha

When Sasha realises his sister is also being abused, he finds the strength to tell his mom indirectly what’s going on. The legal case is then explored, and this becomes a tale of power, politics and justice in NYC.

What Sasha and his family endured led to changes in the Montgomery County criminal justice system for children experiencing similar.

What will never leave me is Sasha’s haunted and haunting eyes.

VOD on May 8 and on PBS’ Independent Lens on May 11.

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