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Unforgotten: Twenty-Five Years After Willowbrook

Jack Fisher  |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Jack Fisher
  • Writers: Stuart Warmflash
  • Producers: Danny Fisher
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: City Lights Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: February 4, 2010
  • Run Time: 57 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00375LBK8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,458 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A critically acclaimed, award-winning documentary that examines the impact of the horrors of the notorious Willowbrook State Institution for the developmentally disabled on the survivors and their families, Unforgotten features eloquent testimonials of family members and focuses on the lives of survivors, 25 years after Geraldo Rivera's historic television expose. "Stirring...Passionate...Unforgotten is unforgettable" -The Hollywood Reporter. "Absolutely Mesmerizing" --Jeffrey Lyons, WNBC TV. "A plea for treating people humanely" -Stephen Holden, The New York Times.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Willowbrook is a moving documentary October 5, 2008
Willowbrook is a moving documentary about the lives of adults who are mentally disabled. I have never heard of the Staten Island, New York school before watching this documentary. I am shocked that thousands of people lived in such deplorable conditions for decades. Reporter Geraldo Rivera first exposed Willowbrook as an overcrowded and understaffed facility in 1972. The school closed in 1987, and some of the former residents have gone on to live productive lives. The message of this documentary is that people with mental disabilities should be given the change to reach their potential, no matter what that is. I am touched by the story of Benard Carabello. He was diagnosed with mental retardation when he actually has cerebral palsy. He now leads a full active life as a disability advocate. I am also touched by the story of the late Luis Rivera. This young man did not have the ability to communicate verbally, but he communicated such warmth and love through his smile and facial gestures. This documentary definitely increases my compassion for people with disabilities.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
This documentary about Willowbrook "State School" in Staten Island, New York really pushed my buttons. As a former social worker who specialized in working with the intellectually challenged population, I knew only too well that the conditions in many institutions were deplorable. I myself worked at a facility that was not exactly the best; and it certainly was a baptism by fire at best! This film, hosted by Danny Aiello, demonstrates that the people who were emotionally scarred by Willowbrook and similar facilities remain scarred many years after the closing of this "school" where roughly 80% of the residents were never given any education at all. The documentary moves at a good pace; at 57 minutes the run time is short but it certainly made me tear up a few times. This is mighty powerful stuff, to say the least. The archival footage we get is not the best quality; but I assume that they simply couldn't get the lighting that they would have liked. After all, the archival footage was filmed during Geraldo Rivera's unannounced visit to Willowbrook to expose the horrifying conditions there for his shocking news piece for a television news channel back in 1971.

In this film we meet several people who have a disabled person in their family; and they share with us moving, heartrending stories of the immense pain of parents and siblings who had to give up members of their families to facilities like Willowbrook because that was what all the "experts" would recommend at that time. Religious leaders, doctors and other family members would all encourage the parents of a developmentally disabled child to put the child into an institution and essentially leave them there. There were no group homes in regular residential communities.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important documentary October 5, 2008
By Filmguy
This documentary is a heartfelt account of the effects upon individuals and families of the policy that treated people worse than ASPCA would have allowed for animals. Unfortunately, not many people know how some of our children with disabilities were once treated, and for that reason, everyone should see this documentary. Although the film may be modest in technique and a few years old, it documents something that should not be forgotten. It is hard to believe this existed here in the USA only a few years ago. Those viewers more interested in content than packaging will be greatly moved by this film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We've Come A Long Way June 25, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I first learned of a place called the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island in the documentary Cropsey. Willowbrook was once the largest institution for the mentally disabled in the world. But unfortunately Willowbrook was much more than that, it was a place where society's unwanted could be left and forgotten.

The tragedy that was Willowbrook first came to light in 1965 when Robert Kennedy called the institution a "snake pit" and nothing was done to correct the problems at it and other State run facilities for the handicapped. In 1972 Geraldo Rivera did an expose on the institution Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace for ABC news that exposed the worst of the problems: overcrowding, underfunding, nothing for the patients to do, lack of staff, rampant filth and disease. He compared the New York system with the much more progressive system in California which was moving away from the institutional setting to regional centers and group homes.

In 1982 Rivera revisited Willowbrook for the news show 20/20 to find that not much had really changed. Willowbrook was forced to finally close its doors in 1987 after another wave of public outcry. Unforgotten by Jack and Danny Fisher gives the viewer a glimpse of the changes that have occurred in our treatment of the mentally disabled in the years since Willowbrook closed. It is by turns a documentary of dispair but oddly one filled with hope. Things are getting better but not at the pace we could have hoped for. The film follows the journey of several families as they try to put there lives back together and rehabilitate the members of their families that had been placed in the institution.

This is an important film to watch for anyone interested in the gains that have been made in the care of the disabled.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly poignant!
This is a required film at school and although I watched it twice and was fascinated by the stories, I think this is something everyone who works with differently abled children... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Liz S
4.0 out of 5 stars Shocking.
Pretty shocking documentary.
Published 1 month ago by Stephanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Fredrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by KATHRYN C BRETHOUR
5.0 out of 5 stars Great coverage of a horrid subject.
I am at odds giving a high rating for this film because of the subject matter. The rating however is for the respect, honesty, and detail given by the filmmakers. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bill Van Vleck
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching
The filming is old but the story is Ian emotional reminder for us of our past and how we use to treat our disabled children.
Published 4 months ago by Gayle
4.0 out of 5 stars Unforgotten
This is a very touching movie. I did not even know Willowbrook even existed. This movie is very informative and would recommend watching this.
Published 5 months ago by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW
After 20 years working with people with disabilities, I'm still moved by this documentary. I think every staff in the field should take time and watch Unforgotten to understand... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Donovan McKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Must see
Good documentary, very real and sad. Must see how people with disabilities were treated, not that long ago. Not for children.
Published 8 months ago by Renilda N Dreiling
5.0 out of 5 stars informative
i really thought that I was ordering a movie to be sent to my home but i really did like it
Published 9 months ago by Stephanie Delaney
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