HBO’s Larry Nassar Documentary Focuses On The Survivors, Not The Abuser

Erin Lee Carr’s upcoming HBO documentary, ‘At The Heart Of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal’ premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and told the stories of sex abuse young athletes faced at the hands of gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. Carr felt it was more important to focus on the survivors instead of the perpetrator. 

“I want to be clear about something: This is not Larry’s film. It belongs to the survivors,” Carr told viewers after the film festival. The documentary details the USA Gymnastics fall from grace since former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, first publicly accused Nassar of sexual assault in 2016. The film also highlights the people and institutions who enabled Nassar, including USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Carr, who’s known for crime documentaries like ‘Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop,’ told HuffPost, “I only make films with the perpetrator at the center. But I couldn’t do that here. This was not going to be Larry Nassar’s film. I was not going to allow him to once again take center stage.”

Nassar is currently serving three life sentences after being accused of serially sexually abusing over 500 athletes (nearly all of whom were young women) under the guise of medical treatment over the course of his 30-year tenure as a famed sports physician for USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University and Twistars, a local gym in East Lansing, Michigan.

The survivors share their experiences, perspectives, and healing throughout the film, and instead of discussing how Nassar abused them, they share how Nassar’s abuse affected them and their lives. The doc features interviews with survivors and some parents and explores how the victims were silenced by leaders such as USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert and former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages. It also features clips of impact statements from Nassar’s seven-day sentence hearing in January 2018, where 169 survivors and family members read impact statements against him. 

Former gymnast and survivor Trinea Gonczar has known Nassar almost her entire life and says his “other side” is difficult to accept at times. “I find it hard to look at him as a criminal, aside from all the things he did. He was so good at being who he was on the other side of [being a predator]. He was awesome. I hate even saying that because it’s like counterintuitive of what the heck is happening to us, but he was awesome. That’s why we all loved him.” Gonczar estimated in the film that Nassau abuses her approximately 846 times.

‘At The Heart Of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal’ premieres Friday, May 3rd at 8 p.m. EST on HBO.

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