(USA • Adi Sideman • 1994)
‘Chickenhawk’ is a notorious (yet rarely viewed) American documentary from 1994 which paints a rather disturbing portrait of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), “a political and educational organisation” supporting men who are sexually attracted to young boys. Run by a government lawyer, this controversial organisation spends it’s time lobbying for changes in the laws regarding sex with minors, as well as in publishing a regular newsletter for its 1500+ members. The ‘NAMBLA Bulletin’, featuring a mix of paedophilic advice and highly suggestive photos of young boys, is blatantly worrying yet is always careful to stick to the letter (if not the spirit) of current laws regarding pornographic content.
Some of the “boy lovers” are interviewed, both individually and in group discussion. They generally concur in viewing the laws surrounding pederast tendencies and behaviours as unjust, often claiming that the victims of such crimes were either emotionally involved with the abuser, consented to the interaction or at least enjoyed it. One of the creeps even makes out that by hanging around children he is “bathing (them) in a certain kind of celestial warmth”! We also hear from victims and their families, who unsurprisingly disagree pretty vehemently with NAMBLA and its members’ aims.
So: another interesting yet ultimately depressing area of our society is explored on film, not totally unsympathetically. As a final aside, it should be noted that the director is not entirely shy of publicity, having attempted to promote the film by inviting both NAMBLA members and a scout troop to its premiere!
FACT: Beat poet and gay activist Allen Ginsberg openly supported NAMBLA, appearing at their 1989 conference.