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Gone2011

The Disappearance of Aeryn Giller

  • 4.1
Kathy Gilleran is a twenty-year veteran police officer from Cortland, New York, just south of Syracuse. Her son, Aeryn Gillern, is a researcher working at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Vienna and a former Mr. Gay Austria. On October 31st, 2007, Kathy receives a call from the U.N. with distressing news: Aeryn has disappeared. Upon arriving in Vienna, she learns that the police have no interest in an investigation. Detectives tell Kathy that Aeryn had been at the Kaiserbründl (an exclusive men's sauna in downtown Vienna) on the evening of October 29th when he suffered an extreme and sudden emotional breakdown, fled the sauna wearing only a towel, ran naked through the city streets and jumped into the Danube Canal. Though her son's disappearance has been ruled a suicide, Kathy suspects there is more to the story. This riveting and haunting documentary seeks to unravel the mystery of Aeryn's whereabouts and uncover the true reasons for the Viennese police's failure to assist Kathy as she searches for her son.

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2 members like this review

I am not much for writing reviews but this one got to me. How can he be made to disappear? As a mother It made me think and challenged me to "ask"; How far would I go to find out the truth? How long would I last searching?. Brought out emotions--sadness, and at the same time to see the mothers strength and love was inspiring. Hard to watch because you keep hoping for a better ending than the unknown. This was good.

Member Reviews (8)

I am not much for writing reviews but this one got to me. How can he be made to disappear? As a mother It made me think and challenged me to "ask"; How far would I go to find out the truth? How long would I last searching?. Brought out emotions--sadness, and at the same time to see the mothers strength and love was inspiring. Hard to watch because you keep hoping for a better ending than the unknown. This was good.

2 members like this review
Acc79a52601d28812b2d93da7666072f?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0082
top reviewer

The sudden and complete disappearance of someone living in a modern, developed country like Austria is as perplexing and intriguing as it is unusual.

But I think such things can, and do, happen anywhere and anytime.

What I found really noteworthy about this film was the homophobia and sexism of the Vienna police.

The disappeared was gay, and his mother, despite being a former police officer herself, was treated with utter contempt when she arrived in Vienna looking for answers about her son's disappearance.

Officers who could speak English refused to do so in her presence. To add insult to injury, she was challenged to explain why she could care about her son who after all had been voted Mr. Gay Austria.

All in all, a sorry condemnation of policing in Austria.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Powerfully disturbing beyond the range of any ranking, "Gone" documents a mother's search for her missing gay son, Aeryn, whose vanishing is veiled by its meager witnessing and the subsequent negligence, obstruction, evasion, and deception of Viennese officials. Staying close to the mother's face and voice, while amplifying with location footage and some reporting, the movie leaves the viewer with a painful absence, a hole, like that in the life and credence of Aeryn's mother. "Gone" charges a Nazi residue and implies near its end that collusion of complicit police and the gay sauna's management may explain the mystery, but no resolution is possible: resolution itself is gone. Movingly plainspoken in its presentation of Aeryn's mother—her untheatrical yet self-observant monologue in response to nearly inaudible questioning guarantees the movie's honesty—"Gone" errs only twice and then briefly by superimposing unattributed, pressured breathing as Aeryn supposedly flees; otherwise, "Gone" is brilliantly unembellished, even when displaying the campily sumptuous interior of the sauna.

Kathy Gilleran, Aeryn's mother, is not performing in "Gone," except in ways understood from Erving Goffman's "The Performance of Self in Everyday Life," but her on-camera presence and speech constitute a performance of the first order: unforgettable, rousing, and felt in the gut as well as in the brain. The makers of the movie admirably succeed in presenting her and her wrenching account. At times, the pure Americanness of her diction and gestures ascend to a dramatic eloquence rarely matched in movies or theater. Seeking a comparison, I think of Elaine Stritch, not the comedic Stritch but the down-home, urgent, and impassioned Stritch so at home in our idiom. Gilleran's purposeful intensity, like that of Stritch, can burn into your eyes immoderately, while her ironic smarts, as when she responds "Yes" to the question of whether she's proud of her son's having been Mr. Gay Austria rewards you at the same time that it lascerates. Gilleran is not acting, she is being, and "Gone" reverberates from her being so terribly, so plainly eloquent.

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top reviewer

Heart wrenching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This documentary will make your blood boil. And the display of how a mothers love has no boundaries is absolutely compelling. I watched this with my jaw on the floor. It sends a very scary message to the common people. And makes you realize the constant danger of traveling abroad. Well worth your time.

Excellent!!!

Sad, But Great Documentary ... Touching...

An incredible insight into part of the gay world in Vienna, the opulent settings and the hazards that accompany the interaction of the gay world with the police and other formal institutions. It reveals the difficulty in this "globalized" world of being a foreigner and not being able to obtain justice because of your lesser or undefined status within your host country.

I originally saw this at the ImageOUT Film Festival in Rochester, NY a few years ago. It was an incredible and very intense film, one of the finest yet most disturbing I've ever seen, made even more so by being a true story. Highly recommended.