Fantastic Fest 2015: “Daniel’s World” tackles taboo topic

The subject of "Daniel's World"

An image from “Daniel’s World”

Daniel is 25 years old. He’s a student, a writer and a self-confessed pedophile.

I’m not sure if there is any topic that is off limits at Fantastic Fest, but this is a subject area that most people would like to not spend much time thinking about. Veronika Liskova’s documentary about Daniel was made for Czech television and is a fairly sympathetic portrait of a man who struggles with his attractions and tries to find a way to tame them.

He meets up with other men in his area who share his predilection, all of whom claim that they spend their entire lives without harming children, despite their desires. In Daniel’s case, he’s in the process of “coming out” to others and trying to figure out what the future for his life can be without the companionship he longs for.

Daniel goes to have his attractions measured by a sexual therapist who confirms that his sexual response is strongest in images of boys from aged 8-10. “It’s a pity that your spectrum does not include adult men,” the sexologist says when Daniel asks if he can have a happy life. Instead, he relies on small groups of like-minded people in real life and online to reconcile his feelings.

It is nevertheless troubling to see that Daniel’s dorm room walls are filled with collages of young children – not sexual photographs, mostly magazine advertisements that have been pasted together on cardboard that can be easily taken down if other people come over – and that he has professed his love for the son of a friend who he longs to be around and get hugs from.

The biggest question that most viewers will have after watching this documentary is if it’s even possible for these desires to remain fantasies that are never acted upon? It’s an uncomfortable uncertainty that “Daniel’s World” provides no easy answers for.

“Daniel’s World” screens again at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, October 1. 

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