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Documentary uncovers painful family secrets

Monday, September 20th, 2010



A new documentary called “Lost Sparrow” screening in Philadelphia tonight tackles a tough issue – and family secrets. Filmmaker Chris Billing was 16 years old when a freight train struck and killed his two adopted brothers in 1978. The boys were Crow Indians, and had run away from home a day before their death.

Billing: Why they left home in the first place, and how they ended up on these train tracks was never really adequately explained. So for all these years, the question of what happened to Bobby and Tyler had lingered in my mind

Billing set out to find out what had prompted his brothers to run away – and uncovered painful family secrets in the process – among them sexual abuse.

Billing says despite his years of experience as a film maker and interviewer, it was very difficult to make a film about his own family, and there were several times along the way when he questioned his decision to take on the subject in the first place.

Chris Kirchner from the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance hopes the film will bring attention to an issue that is surrounded by shame and secrecy. She says the about 140 reports of child sexual abuse she sees in Philadelphia every month are only the tip of the iceberg:

Kirchner: We know that there are many children, because of the dynamics and the secrecy, who will not report, who will never report.

Film maker Chris Billing will be in Philadelphia for a screening at the Free Library tonight and “Lost Sparrow” airs on PBS stations including WHYY on November 16th at 10 PM, as part of the Independent Lens series.

Event details:

WHAT: Come join the filmmaker himself Chris Billing as he premieres his documentary in Philadelphia, with a special welcome by District Attorney Seth Williams.
WHERE: Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central- Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA
WHEN: Monday, September 20 — 6:15-8:30 PM


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