"How can you leave a child in a car? How can you do that? How can you forget your child's in the car? And you know, and honestly, I don't know,"
Dianna explains, "But I do know it happens, because it happened to us."
Dianna and Doug's daughter Kristen died after she was left in the car one morning. To this day they cannot understand how it happened - only that it did, and that it cannot be undone. "I started trying to remember what we did that morning, like what did we do different. And I couldn't remember it,"
Death by hyperthermia - overheating - was the cause of death and is the fate of 30 to 40 children annually in the States alone. What befalls parents afterwards is not only a lifetime of crippling guilt but fierce public backlash, lasting social stigma, and the threat of serious prison time. Doug was lucky in this last regard, escaping a sentence, but others are not.
Antonio moved to the US from Peru in search for a better life - something he has since regretted: "I wish I never came to America - none of this would have happened."
His daughter Veronika died after he left her in the car for an hour. He now faces decades in prison and possible deportation. "I got sentenced to 20 years in prison. I would like the opportunity to go back to work and live a normal life but I'm facing deportation back to my country."
Even for those who escape sentences, the public reaction can be unrelenting. After the death of Norman's child he was constantly maligned by strangers: "there were news station buses outside, people calling my name from across the street and asking questions from across the street, how could you kill your son, pretty much video recording me everywhere I went"
he relates. "They just made it really hard for my family and I to just grieve."
Public harassment affects not just the parents but those around them. After Chris' brother died, even as a child he found himself the constant focal point of criticism: "I experienced people's judgment after my brother passed away on a daily basis,"
he remembers. "Random kids would come up to me and be like, I can't believe that you don't hate your mom for what she did."
This chilling yet sensitive documentary delves into a taboo subject that is surrounded by societal misgiving. By challenging preconceptions, this is one film no one will easily forget.
Nordisk Panorama – Official Selection
CPH:DOX – Official Selection
Giffoni Film Festival - Official Competition 2018
Göteborg Film Festival – Official Selection
International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival – Official Selection