Church donates funds to sexual abuse drama
The Broken Bay Diocese of the Catholic Church has donated $20,000 towards the cost of producing a 30-minute drama which tackles sexual abuse in the Church.
A Priest in the Family stars Lynette Curran, Susie Porter, Gillian Jones and Lisa Hensley and is based on a short story by Irish writer Colm Tóibín about an elderly woman whose son, a parish priest, is accused of molesting his former students.
Co-directed by producer Anni Finsterer and Peter Humble, who wrote the screenplay, the film has finished shooting. Finsterer tells IF that Humble is assembling footage so the producers can apply for funds to complete post production.
Curran plays Molly, a vigorous Irish woman in her late 70s who attempts to keep up with the changing times of her grandchildren by mastering the Internet. When Molly learns that her son Frank, a local parish priest, is about to go on trial for the sexual abuse of former students, the horrifying case gives them a chance of reconciliation.
“We had a huge show of support from the Diocese, (retired) Bishop David Walker and Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuses,” Finsterer tells IF.
“The Diocese of Broken Bay strongly believes that supporting the making of A Priest in the Family is just one small way to further open up the dialogue and conversation that needs to happen for healing to take place, and for all voices to be heard,” the Diocese said in its newsletter.
“We fully understand that through years of damage, trust in the Church and its relationship with the broader community is extremely low. But, it is not a time for us to hide from criticisms and difficult decisions, and certainly not a time to step away from our ongoing pastoral care for people.
“We hope to use this film as an entry point to facilitated group discussions that will assist parishes and small communities to better understand the complexity of this issue that society is coming to terms with, and their place in society as members of the Catholic Church. Our program will also be made available to the wider Church.
“Our support of this production has not influenced in any way the production values of the cast and crew, and we honour them for their commitment in opening up this difficult and heart wrenching chapter in Australia’s history.”
The producers hope to arrange distribution via a company that supports low budget films, with screenings followed by community forums in Australia and internationally that will facilitate discussion about the issues raised in the film.
Anni said, "The shared directing worked out really well. Pete focused on the tech side and framing and I focused on the acting. We were in our individual elements."
The film was shot on location in Portland and the bulk of the funds was spent on crew, accommodation, food and hiring lights and vans.