October 14, 2011
Missing son inspires documentary
‘Gone’ will make CNY debut Saturday at Syracuse International Film Fest
Photo provided Kathy Gilleran
Kathy Gilleran stands with her son, Aeryn, in September 2007 a month before he disappeared in Vienna while working for the United Nations.
“How far will a mother go for her son?”
That is the tagline for “Gone,” an 85-minute documentary about Kathy Gilleran’s search for answers in her son Aeryn’s unsolved 2007 disappearance in Austria. The film makes its Central New York debut Saturday at the Syracuse International Film Festival.
“It seemed like an engaging and perplexing mystery about what happened to this guy,” the film’s co-director John Morning said.
In four years, Gilleran, of Cortlandville, has traveled thousands of miles in back-and-forth trips to Austria.
Aeryn disappeared on Oct. 29, 2007, while working in Vienna.
“I have no plans to give this up,” Kathy Gilleran said. “My hope is someone will come forward ... someone with a conscience.”
The story is captivating because there are many missing persons cases with grieving mothers, but it is rare to find a grieving mother searching for answers who also carries 20 years of experience as a police officer, Morning said.
Kathy Gilleran is a former Ithaca police officer.
“Gone” will be shown at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Palace Theater in Syracuse.
It is also circulating at film festivals around the country, film producer Daniel Chalfen said.
Aeryn Gillern, who altered his last name to a traditional family spelling, was 34 years old when he went missing while working with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
“Gone” premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival after nearly three years in the making.
John and Gretchen Morning, Fayetteville residents who work as filmmakers in Los Angeles, read about Kathy Gilleran’s search in a newspaper and approached her about making a film.
“We think people need to hear Kathy’s story,” Chalfen said. “What she’s gone through represents what a lot of parents of gay children deal with.”
There have been no answers or definitive leads about what happened to Aeryn Gillern. Viennese police speculated he committed suicide, something his mother doubts because no body was ever found.
“This will be the third year in a row they (the police) have not met with me,” she said. “I can’t imagine a police department not at least allowing one meeting a year for a missing person case.”
She speculates police prejudice plays a role, based on her dealings with them. Her son was openly gay.
“There’s a bigger picture here — you do expect that in a free world country, that when someone goes missing, the authorities won’t make judgments about the person and about whether to investigate,” he said.
Aeryn Gillern was raised in Groton and is a 1991 graduate of Groton High School.
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