Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rumur's back -- with a 30-year missing-child project, WHO TOOK JOHNNY?

RUMUR, the consortium of filmmakers -- Michael Galinksy, Suki Hawley and David Beilinson -- who brought you one of the best documentaries seen in this new millennium, BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN, are back with a new project. Its first draft, so to speak, was shown a few weeks back on MSNBC: a documentary about a 12-year-old boy named Johnny Gosch, who disappeared while delivering newspapers in West Des Moines, Iowa, on the morning of September 5, 1982. His face -- along with that of another missing child from the same geographic area -- was one of, maybe the first to appear on a milk carton.

Stories like this -- for parents, grandparents, entire extended families -- are among the most difficult to view. They call up primal fears about the loss of one's child -- and worse: the hell of not knowing, and sometimes never learning, what happened or if your child remains alive. These filmmakers have previously shown, via their "Battle" and their amazing George W. Bush-book documentary Horns and Halos, that they are capable of taking a bizarre true story of a single human being fighting like hell against the stream of would-be "truth" and "facts" and, if not winning the battle, at least proving that caring and perseverance count for a lot, demand our respect -- and above all some imitation.

In their latest venture, it's the mother of the missing boy, Noreen Gosch (shown above and below, at the time of her son's disappearance), who, when local police do next-to-nothing to find the boy, takes it upon herself to work tirelessly (for 30 years now) to uncover the facts in this harrowing case. [Here's a scene that did not make the TV version, showing Noreen visiting a present-day (2012) couple whose little girl had recently been kidnapped; another that you can watch from the  film offers a kind of re-creation of the abduction of Johnny.]

Rumur's film-making team ferrets out the history here, with some terrific archival footage -- along with some current footage, interviews, and a wonderful weaving together of all the information. The result is a 44-minute short film about this case (this was what was aired on MSNBC) that is absolutely riveting. It's full of event and surprise, and it will leave you, I believe, profoundly moved by what these 30 years have done to everyone involved.

You can watch all 44 minutes of the TV version now, free-of-charge, on Vimeo. But -- counteracting what I posted earlier, due to legal ramifications -- you will have to "request" this viewing. Either let me know at my email address,, or you can contact the filmmakers directly at

This short version of the story will be fleshed out into a full-length film next year, just as soon as its current Kickstarter campaign is finished. There are only two more days to go on this campaign, which is nearing fruition. So, please, if you have the time (and just a little moolah/dough/dinero), watch this movie now and then help the movie-makers complete their task by donating a little something to the campaign.

Johnny's and Noreen's is a story that needs to be told for so many reasons, some of them quite surprising and all of them damned good. Pedophilia/sex-trafficking is but one of the doorways you enter here. This is a tale, like others that Rumur has told, that takes what we think we know about a subject or a situation and then, rather than either verifying this or destroying it, simply expands it into something rich and strange and so much more than most of us could (or might want to -- but it's healthier if we do) imagine.

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