Magazine article Screen International

Australia's 'Spotlight' to Capture Painful Chapter in Recent History

Magazine article Screen International

Australia's 'Spotlight' to Capture Painful Chapter in Recent History

Article excerpt

Cameras are rolling in Queensland on a dramatised account of a landmark civil action against the Anglican Church in Australia, which contributed to both the resignation of the governor-general, and the establishment of a royal commission into child sexual abuse.

Don't Tell, which has been dubbed by local media as 'Australia's Spotlight', explores the same subject matter as Tom McCarthy's 2016 best picture Oscar winner: the systemic mishandling of child sexual abuse allegations by religious institutions (whose members also committed the sex abuse crimes).

Producer Scott Corfield of fledgling production outfit Fornillo Road, described Don't Tell to Screen as "an inspiring fight for justice".

"It's very topical. This issue is front and centre, in Australia and sadly, across the world. Very rarely, though, is a film made that actually shows it from the perspective of the survivor."

The A$5m film is based on a book by lawyer Stephen Roache, who represented an abuse survivor ('Lyndal'), when she took action against the diocese of Brisbane for abuse she suffered as an 11 year-old student at a prestigious Anglican boarding school in 1990. Her tormentor was charged but committed suicide before the trial.

A decade later, Lyndal successfully sued the Anglican Church in Australia and received A$850,000 in damages, and the case triggered reforms to protocols for hiring teaching staff.

Lyndal's lawsuit implicated then-governor-general Peter Hollingworth, who was archbishop of Brisbane at the time of her abuse, and who had dismissed her claims as false.

In response to public outcry, Hollingworth apologised, but when other examples of his mismanagement of abuse allegations surfaced in 2003, he resigned from his position as the Queen's representative in Australia. …

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