“Unforgotten” is a heartfelt look at the way in which inhumane mistreatment of the mentally retarded at Willowbrook changed forever the lives of residents and their family members. Currently in a one-week Oscar-qualifying run, this quietly thought-provoking docu is clearly targeted for cable or public TV.
Pic consists primarily of interviews with siblings and parents of children who were committed to the horrific Staten Island institution. Also interviewed is Geraldo Rivera, who as a young local TV journalist brought the atrocities of Willowbrook to public attention, precipitating its closure in 1972.
Faded home movies and vintage photos of Willowbrook provide a thankfully muted visual reminder of the place Robert F. Kennedy described as “a snake pit.” Somewhat generic onscreen narration by Danny Aiello provides historical perspective.
Pic manages to avoid being unbearably depressing by focusing on the family members’ renewed commitments to their retarded loved ones and the overall changes in the public’s attitude toward the handicapped.
Technically proficient, pic is aided by Hayes Greenfield’s spare, elegiac jazz score.