Conspiracy of Silence

Conspiracy of Silence

Crime, Drama, Thriller | 90 Mins | Released: 2003
Director: John Deery
Starring: Johnathan Forbes, Brenda Fricker, Niall O'Brian, Catherine Cusack, Elaine Symons, Tommy Carey, Paudge Behan
Our Rating: 7

In Conspiracy of Silence, Father Sweeney (Patrick Casey), a gay Catholic priest living with HIV, commits suicide. His death leads local investigative journalist David Foley (Jason Barry) to write a story that publicly identifies Sweeney as having HIV.

At the local seminary, two students near ordination are expelled because one, Daniel (Jonathon Forbes) was seen leaving the room of the other, Niall (Paudge Behan). Niall is gay and Daniel is straight and they engaged in no sexual activity but were still expelled for the sake of appearances. Daniel returns home, where he is torn between his calling to the priesthood and his love for his ex-girlfriend Sinead (Catherine Walker).

Daniel meets with Foley, who writes a follow-up article exposing a covered-up AIDS protest that Sweeney had staged at the Vatican three years earlier and Daniel’s dismissal. He also alleges that cardinals close to the Pope are engaged in sexual relationships and calls on the Church to re-examine its celibacy requirement for priests. The local bishop, Michael Quinn (Jim Norton), pressures the editor of the local paper not to run the second story. The editor acquiesces but after reading the story sends it to the Irish Times, which prints it.

The next day the bishop, his aide, Foley and Daniel appear together in a live television debate. Before the broadcast, agents of the Church threaten to harm Foley’s family unless he retracts his story on the air. Bishop Quinn offers to reinstate Daniel if Daniel is willing to admit he has been wrong. On-air Foley capitulates but Daniel does not, asking the bishop if he himself practices celibacy. When the bishop refuses to answer, Father Sweeney’s partner, former priest Matthew Francis (John Lynch) confronts Quinn with Sweeney’s suicide note in which Sweeney discloses that Quinn and he had had an affair.

At film’s end, Daniel is back at home with Sinead.


Movie Notes:

Conspiracy of Silence got a limited US theatrical release in December 2004, following its festival screenings. The film was re-launched at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2014 by a new US boutique sales company, Angel Grace Productions, headed by Michael Fister.


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2001 Hartley-Merrill International Screenwriting Award John Deery Won
2001 Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab Fellowship John Deery Won
2003 Dinard British Film Festival Golden Hitchcock Conspiracy of Silence Nominated
2003 Irish Film and Television Awards Best Film Director John Deery Nominated
2003 Warsaw International Film Festival Special Mention Conspiracy of Silence Won
2004 National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award Conspiracy of Silence Won