‘Code of Silence’, a documentary on child sexual abuse inside a religious institution in Melbourne, won the Walkley Award for Best Documentary in 2014.
A co-production between Mint Pictures and Identity Films, Dan Goldberg (producer) and Danny Ben-Moshe (director) received the prestigious prize on Thursday night at the annual awards ceremony in Sydney.
‘Code of Silence’ followed the sordid scandal of child sexual abuse inside Yeshivah College after Manny Waks blew the whistle in 2011 when he went public with his allegations of abuse. The film captured the unfolding drama over the course of one year, witnessing two Jewish pedophiles being jailed and Manny and his parents, Zephaniah and Chaya, shunned from their Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox community.
The judges said: “Code of Silence is a documentary exposure of an Orthodox Jewish family’s distressing struggle to tell the truth about child sexual abuse within a well-known Melbourne boys’ school. The work is exceptional because of the access negotiated with key players as the drama unfolded. It contributes to public understanding of the magnitude of the failure across institutions, both religious and secular, to protect children because of a more dominant reputational defensiveness. Through actuality and interview, the documentary effectively breaks the ‘code of silence’ which had prevailed to cover up abuse in this close-knit community.”
Accepting the award, Dan Goldberg said it was “bittersweet” to be receiving acclaim for “a film we shouldn’t have had to make.”
Danny Ben-Moshe, from Identity Films, said the cast “bared their souls” on camera. “I hope through this film it casts further light on this issue,” he said, adding the importance of media and documentary makers being “a force and facilitator for positive change.”
‘Code of Silence’ was short-listed alongside ‘Cronulla Riots’ and ‘Love Marriage in Kabul’. It is automatically entered into the Asian Pacific Screen Awards this week.
It originally screened on ABC TV as a Compass special in August. Mint’s Adam Kay was executive producer.
To view a list of all the Walkley winners, click here: