'No Way Out But One' to Unveil at MIT

A compelling new documentary debuts in Boston this week that will open your eyes to a stunning injustice. No Way Out But One was co-written and directed by Emmy award winning television producer Garland Waller, currently a professor at Boston University. Waller, a friend and former colleague of mine at WBZ-TV, asked me to go to San Diego in August to critique the unfinished doc at a conference on domestic violence.

The film follows a case that gained international attention 10 years ago when a divorced mother made the FBI’s Most Wanted List for kidnapping her children from their father and escaping overseas.

Holly Collins, a battered wife living in Minnesota, divorced her husband but lost custody of her kids when the family court deemed she was so traumatized by the abuse that her parenting skills were questionable. The court also ignored evidence her ex-husband severely beat the children, even cracking his young son’s skull. In interviews with the children, now young adults, we hear about the emotional and physical cruelty they endured while living with their father. Collins took her kids and ran.

The film details their harrowing escape, how Collins eluded security at the airport pre-9/11, and how she and her children eventually became the first Americans ever granted asylum in the Netherlands.

But Collins is one of the lucky ones. She and her family (including her daughter, Jennifer, who’s director of the Courage Kids Network, which helps abused children) are now back in the U.S. and plan to attend the screening at 7 p.m. Thursday on MIT campus, room 6-120. Co-producers Waller and Barry Nolan will also be there. (Full disclosure: Nolan is a Boston Daily blogger.) Waller says she is thrilled the film was picked to lead off the new Chicks Make Flicks series, sponsored by Women in Film & Video/New England.

“I know it’s not a pleasant subject, talking about child abuse and having to acknowledge that the American family court system isn’t protecting abused children, but perhaps once people realize what is happening they can initiate change,” Holly Collins said.

It takes courage to put the spotlight on an issue that a flawed system would prefer be left in the shadows. No Way Out But One persuasively makes the case for much-needed change.