The word paedophile is associated with one of the most taboo subjects. When we hear it, we instantly become defensive, angry, and upset. The image of the paedophile becomes a monstrous figure who transcends the human realm, for how can someone so unnatural be a member of our functioning society? Veronika Lisková’s Daniel’s World aims to change these perceptions, not through sympathy or even understanding but by depicting a man who is very normal despite his sexual preference.
The majority of the documentary follows the 25-year-old homosexual paedophile Daniel in his everyday life. He makes a cup of tea for five minutes and visits his brother for ten. These are very human things, but at the same time they are juxtaposed with a non-diegetic voice-over of him trying to explain his love for a pre-pubescent boy. He makes it clear that he wishes to only be friends and never act on his sexual desires. He seeks solace and support from his friends, who are also paedophiles, on how to cope with their sexuality without endangering others. There is a strong distinction, supported by the intertitle epilogue, between the paedophile and the child molester.
Daniel’s World is a brave and honest exploration of the struggle for acceptance within a society that sees no difference between the acting child molester and the repressive paedophile. Lisková’s lack of directorial judgement, however, does not mean that there are no sinister undertones at play here. The collage of pre-pubescent boys that hangs on Daniel’s wall is upsetting, acting as a constant reminder of how forbidden and grotesque this attraction is. A shot of Daniel and his friends standing outside the gates of a children’s playground is the paedophile image we are familiar with; disturbingly, they discuss the children’s appearances.
Lisková’s stark portrait of Daniel and the Czech paedophile community is constantly asking us whether we can condemn these men for being born with this condition. Daniel’s World takes a look at the paedophile in a way that has never really been done before. There are no horror stories of child abuse. There are no excuses. There is just a man and his friends who are looking for an identity when, in many people’s opinion, they don’t deserve one.
Verdict: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Daniel’s World does not yet have a UK release date.
Watch the trailer for Daniel’s World here: