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Just weeks after the fact-based Spotlight won the best motion picture Oscar, Open Road Films, which distributed the movie, has admitted that fictionalized dialogue was attributed to one of the real-life figures portrayed in the film, Jack Dunn, and acknowledged that Dunn was not part of the Catholic Church cover-up dramatized in the pic.
Dunn, who currently serves as a spokesman for Boston College, appears in the film as an alumnus of Boston College High School who appears to react to the news of an abusive priest as if he’s complicit in the cover-up.
In the movie, the Dunn character, played by Gary Galone, when confronted by Michael Keaton’s character about what he knew about abuse at the school, responds, “It’s a big school, Robbie, you know that. And we’re talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?”
Dunn has told various press outlets in the Boston area then when he saw that scene, he walked out of the movie and threw up. In fact, Dunn, a 1979 graduate of the school and a member of its board of trustees, told the Boston Globe that when he heard of the allegations about priests who taught at BC High, he presented the school’s board of trustees a four-point plan to address the allegations.
Dunn hired a lawyer and demanded that the scene be removed from the film. In response, Open Road released a statement that said, “We believe the complaint against Spotlight is without merit. The filmmakers meticulously researched what happened in Boston. The movie is based on real events and was made with the cooperation and help of the people who lived them. The movie uses — as is the case of all movies made about historical events — scenes and dialogue to introduce characters, provide context, and articulate broad themes. We feel confident, based on the extensive research conducted, that the movie authentically captures the nature of events, issues, and pressures of the time.”
Unlike many other fact-based movies that become a focus of debate over how accurately they treat the facts, Spotlight largely avoided such discussions during its successful Oscar campaign.
But, in its new new statement released Tuesday, Open Road responds to Dunn’s complaint more directly, saying, “As is the case with most movies based on historical events, Spotlight contains fictionalized dialogue that was attributed to Mr. Dunn for dramatic effect. We acknowledge that Mr. Dunn was not part of the Archdiocesan cover-up. It is clear from his efforts on behalf of the victims at BC High that he and the filmmakers share a deep, mutual concern for victims of abuse.”
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