Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1995) (TV)
During the 1980s to early 1990s, there was an epidemic of false or exaggerated sexual abuse cases from preschools and day care centers around the world, including one highly publicized and scandalous case from the town of Bjugn in my own country Norway. What all these cases had in common was that a comment, story or allegation by a child was spun into increasingly more serious and outlandish stories of rape, satanic rituals and fantastical events through interview sessions with various child therapists and/or social workers who used what has later been exposed as highly questionable and suggestive interviewing techniques. The McMartin case was one of the most publicized of these cases in the United States, and this made-for-television movie from 1995 set out to shed light on this hysteria that destroyed the lives of so many, both children and falsely accused adults. It's a well-made and serious drama that manages to stay fairly neutral, even if there's little doubt as to the filmmakers' position. James Woods gives a solid performance as the defence lawyer who takes the McMartin family's case, and just like the filmmakers, his character is out to prove that it was mass-hysteria and systemic problems that led to these tragic results, not necessarily the wrongful doings of individuals. Simmering performances from Lolita Davidovitch and Henry Thomas on each side of the pendulum energize this thought-provoking and ahead-of-its-time TV drama.