8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'By the Grace of God' (2019)

Francois Ozon's Berlinale entry focuses on the true story of a group of sex abuse victims who've formed an association to break the silence, years after they were molested by a priest in Lyon. The father's widespread abuse was known by his diocese's cardinal and even the Vatican. The actual Cardinal Barbarin, who attempted to cover up the case, is now on trial and could end up in prison.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'Spotlight' (2016)

Based on a true story, this biographical drama directed by Tom McCarthy follows a team of reporters from "The Boston Globe" as they uncover systemic child sex abuse by Catholic priests in their city. "Spotlight" garnered six Oscar nominations and won for best picture and best screenplay. The actual investigation also earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2003.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'The Club' (2015)

Dark images, silhouetted actors shown out of focus: It's the cinematography of a horror film. Chilean director Pablo Larrain tackled an explosive topic in "The Club," in which four retired Catholic priests live in a secluded house and there "purge" horrible crimes, including child sex abuse. Larrain was inspired by true stories of high-level priests who live in hiding to avoid criminal charges.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'Verfehlung' (2015)

The German film "Verfehlung" (Misconduct) by Gerd Schneider depicts how the friendship of three priests is affected by a sex abuse scandal. One of them is accused of molesting teenage boys, and the two others react to their friend's situation in different ways. The way they deal with the truth could impact not only their relationship, but also their career in the ranks of the Church.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'Philomena' (2013)

With "Philomena," Stephen Frears deals with another aspect of the Church's institutional abuse: women who were forcibly separated from their children born out of wedlock. The film is based on the true story of Philomena Lee, whose son was taken away by the nuns at the convent where she was forced to work and sold to wealthy Americans. Actress Judi Dench portrayed the older Philomena.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'Bad Education' (2004)

While Pedro Almodovar's drama "Bad Education" is a stylized murder mystery playing on different levels of metafiction, it also tells the story of a young boy being molested by a Catholic priest in his boarding school. Ignacio, the abused child, is later a transgender woman who confronts the abusive father and blackmails him.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'The Magdalene Sisters' (2002)

The Magdalene Asylums, also known as Magdalene laundries, were Catholic Church institutions that served as a reformatory for women labelled as "fallen." Peter Mullan's 2002 drama portrays one such home, telling the story of four young women who were sent there by their families, or caretakers, and who faced extreme cruelty and abuse by nuns. The last such institution closed in 1996.

8 films portraying Catholic Church sex abuse

'Primal Fear' (1996)

A 19-year-old altar boy (Edward Norton, in his Oscar-nominated film debut) is accused of brutally murdering an influential Catholic Archbishop. An ambitious defense lawyer (Richard Gere) takes on his case. In the course of the trial, it is revealed that the beloved archbishop had abusive tendencies and had forced altar boys into sex.

"By the Grace of God," premiering in Berlin, depicts the Church's attempted cover-up of a sex abuse scandal. Such cases have long been explored by feature films. Here are a few memorable works.