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Feast of the Assumption: BTK and the Otero Family Murders

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Feast of the Assumption: BTK and the Otero Family Murders

Canadian Premiere

  • USA 2008
  • 86 min
  • video
  • English
WINNER: Director's Choice Award, Rincon International Film Festival 2008
Official Selection, Las Vegas International Film Festival 2009
Official Selection, Milan International Film Festival 2008
Official Selection, Kansas City FilmFest 2009



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"There's stuff here that will leave you in tears" — Robert W. Butler, KANSAS CITY STAR

"An excellent film" — Terra King, LOS ANGELES EXAMINER

"Powerful and compelling" — Keith Van Sickle, TMI WEEKLY


Director: Marc D. Levitz
Cast: Charlie Otero, Gary Caldwell, Denis Rader, Steve Relford
Producers: Marc D. Levitz
Print Source: Unsub Films

Part of...

Documentaries From The Edge   

Documentaries From The Edge



This is not a true-crime documentary. At least, not in the regular sense. It’s not about a vile serial killer, though it features one of the worst imaginable at its centre. It doesn’t exist to confront you with the stomach-turning details of unspeakable acts—though that too does happen over the course of its running time. This is a film about the “living victims” left in the wake of a serial killer’s actions. In particular, this is a film about Charlie Otero. At the age of 15 in the small town of Wichita, Charlie’s life was smashed apart when his entire family was slaughtered at their home in a sudden, random attack by a stranger. As fate would have it—and over the course of this film, fate begins to play a chillingly heavy role—Charlie and his family were the first victims of a serial killer who would continue murdering strangers for decades—a man who signed his taunting letters to the media as BTK (bind, torture, kill).

Shot over a period of many years, this astoundingly powerful documentary begins with Charlie in 2004, some 30 years after the loss of his family, at a time when BTK’s identity was still unknown (he would ultimately be captured during the course of this film’s shooting, spiraling the story onto a startling and illuminating new course). Charlie is just home from a stint in prison, related to a domestic abuse charge, and he’s trying to put his life back together. He is still unable to come to terms with the past and is trying very hard to make his connections to others matter as he fights against impulses towards self-destruction. We follow him through his daily routines, observing how irresolvable scars color everything about the way a person relates to the world. And then, the incredible happens. BTK is captured and unmasked, laid bare for the world to see. He is Dennis Rader, a terrifyingly unremarkable and vile man who had once been a Cub Scout leader and was an elected Congregation Council President of his church. In his private life, Rader stole the underwear from his victims and wore them himself.

Charlie, along with a stream of others whose lives were incinerated by Rader’s crimes, must now go to court and… listen. When we finally get to meet Rader, whose emotionless courtroom confessions rank among some of the most upsetting moments ever captured on camera, we do so alongside Charlie. Seeing this monster through Charlie’s eyes is an absolutely shattering experience. It is the closest most of us will ever come to confronting pure evil. Accompanying Charlie on this extraordinary journey has an impact that simply defies description. Several instances of coincidences are too eerie to be dismissed as random and may leave you contemplating the uncomfortable possibilities of predestination and fate.
By focusing on the survivor instead of the monster, director Marc Levitz inverts the conventions of true crime documentaries and emerges with a film more compelling, more raw, more gripping that even he could ever have anticipated. There are moments so emotionally charged they will have you in tears.

While this film will take you through hell, it’s ultimately a deeply moving experience as we grow to love Charlie and revel in the smallest of his victories, watching him struggle against his demons towards a new life in the shadow of horror. You will barely be able to speak by the time the credits roll.

—Mitch Davis

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