‘Spotlight’ film on pedophile priest investigation earns Oscar buzz at TIFF

Mark Ruffalo at the 'Spotlight' Premiere, Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 14, 2015. Eric Charbonneau/REX Shutterstock

TORONTO — Journalists from The Boston Globe are being called “the true heroes” of the Spotlight film, which tells the true story of how their team uncovered a massive child sex abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up within the Boston Catholic Archdiocese.

The Toronto-made film — which stars homegrown talent Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber — made its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival Monday night to cheers and rave reviews.

Vanity Fair wrote that the movie “has swiftly emerged as an Oscar favorite, if not the Oscar favorite, at the festival.” And the Los Angeles Times predicted: “It won’t be long before the Pulitzer isn’t the only prize associated with this group.”

John Slattery, who plays the editor overseeing the Spotlight team, takes the Oscar buzz with a grain of salt. He told ET Canada he prefers to focus on the message the film delivers.

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“It’s an important story. Not just the story of the victims of this abuse but the way that these journalists dug in and found this story.”

All six who played a role in the investigation were at Monday’s premiere. They include: reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James); spotlight editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton);  deputy managing editor Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery); and former Boston Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber).

Michael Rezendes, Ben Bradlee Jr., Sacha Pfeiffer, Walter Robinson, Martin Baron, Matt Carroll attended the ‘Spotlight’ Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival; Sept. 14, 2015. Eric Charbonneau/REX Shutterstock

During a Q&A after the screening, the group expressed amazement at the amount of detail that went into bringing their characters to life on the big screen.

“[Rachel McAdams] wanted to know everything. What I ate, how I grew up, what jewellery I wore,” said Pfeiffer of the actress, who called this project one of the greatest experiences of her film career.
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“I found out today,” the reporter added, “that sometimes when we were together, she would drop behind me to capture my gait. This is how good they are.”

To better emulate his character, Scheiber spent two hours in Baron’s Washington Post office. The former Boston Globe editor said this investigation was the most fulfilling story he’s ever worked on.

“There are many others we have to pursue.”

On stage, Ruffalo commended their work: “You lifted the hood off of the machine. And it wasn’t always pretty.”

“As much accolades we get for being here and doing this, it’s really you who have given the great gift to so many people and given a voice to people who didn’t have a voice before.”

“Journalism is,” Ruffalo added, “a big part of what democracy is.”

The Boston Globe’s 2001 investigation of the pedophile priest scandal revealed more than a thousand victims of the Catholic church and “led to the 2002 resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law.”

You can watch the trailer for the film below and see it in theatres starting Nov. 6.


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