Hi everyone, my name is Teresa Lavina. A native of Spain (Bilbao) and long time resident of Ireland (24 years). I run an independent film production company in Galway called Nova Productions Ireland. I'm here with you today because I know the importance fundraisers play helping with projects that are created to help the community. I have an important story to share told by the voices of the survivors of the mother and baby homes in Ireland.
The documentary is raw, unsanitised, and emotional and I believe that it will interest a very large portion of a world-wide audience. As this is a story that unfortunately is repeating itself constantly around the world. Since the release of this documentary I myself have faced threats and attempts to destroy and silence me only because I gave people who had something to say about their treatment by the same repressive apparatus a platform in which to speak.
Here is a bit of the background of this long journey.
Over the past four years, I mostly single-handledly crafted a documentary that sheds light on the experiences, life and upbringing of survivors of Irish institutions.
I invested my savings, borrowed money from family and volunteered my equipment and time to bring it to completion. I was very lucky that I was helped all along by survivors like PJ Haverty who offered me his unconditional help for nearly four years, Catherine Corless and some councillors , TD's and journalist based in Ireland.
This platform is in the form of a now award-winning documentary called "Untold Secrets" which gives detailed insight into the unheard stories of many survivors of Irish Institutions in the 20th century.
Most startling, however, are the personal accounts of one woman, Anne Silke, caught on tape for the first time, who has passed on since the filming of her important testimony. She was an honorable woman with nothing to lose and nothing to gain by telling me her story, a story which she had told multiple times to authorities and had been ignored by government agencies in order to protect their own from the inevitable public scrutiny that would have surely followed. She relates her history, in her own words, of how she was fostered out of the St. Mary, Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam at the age of 9 to the Killileas, a prominent political family from Tuam in Co. Galway, Ireland. "Untold Secrets" recounts her often brutal sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her foster family by the two brothers, Jarlath Killilea and Mark Killilea Jr. (TD, Minister and MPE). She was not a bitter woman, she was a lovely woman who was well-respected and never complained to her friends and neighbors about her horrific past. She had no intentions other than to share her story with us.
By giving this strong woman a platform, I have been threatened and harassed by the Killilea family as they have attempted to silence my film in every film festival I have submitted to through unwarranted solicitors letters that have no legal legs to stand on, hoping to scare them into not screening the film despite receiving legal clearance from the Irish Film Institute. It has made it difficult to publicize this important testimony in Ireland, where I have at points been outright denied access to cinemas because of nepotistic ties to the Killilea family or personal interviews with me and some of the survivors from the documentary are scrubbed or wiped for irrational fear of backlash by the power apparatus which protects its own. The Irish television and print media have been reluctant to bring this information to light as well. The goal, is to help voicing this history of clerical and institutional abuse and with your help continue to cover by distributing the film internationally. This way I can take the pertinent steps against the people interfering with the fair promotion of the film and are trying to stop society to know the how these institutions were allowed to function, who fostered and abuse these children destroying lives for decades. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
and received excellent reviews in a Galway paper
After that there was just silence in Ireland...none of my interviews with different journalists were published, no radio stations have talked about this matter and every article written by journalists have been stopped.
This has not stopped me, however it has left me with no more economical resources to keep going. I have been in hospital twice and I am spending most of my time trying to fight the system.
Internationally, the documentary has been well-received and covered in the press. It has been included in Seminci in Valladolid (in which it received an 8.6 audience rating), the Irish Film Festival in London, San Francisco, and the Ottawa Irish Film Festival. I have an interview scheduled on the 15th of November with Mariella Frostrup in London on her Times Radio programme and I have held a few interviews and podcasts around the world. Irish Central newspaper will be publishing an article with the film’s trailer and will cover the censorship attempts the documentary has been facing. To this day, personally I have not received any solicitor's letters from the Killilea's in the same vein as the ones they have been sending to each and every festival "Untold Secrets" has been submitted to making it clear that the letters are merely an impotent attempt at thwarting the distribution of the documentary.
I'm approaching you because I know you can help light the fires of outrage that this topic deserves and that you can be the catalyst that can build those fires so high that the institutions and political apparatus content with scapegoating the problems they've created for thousands of Irish-born people will no longer be able to ignore it. Give the people here a voice. Give the victims a voice. More importantly, give Anne Silke a voice. She wanted her voice to be heard before she died. Help us grant us her wish, for her, her beloved family, and for everyone she represents. I am creating this campaign to release the documentary to national and international cinemas and to promote it fully so it can reach the audience that needs to and create the social awareness that it deserves.
If you would like to view the documentary before you make a decision to donate, I'll be happy to share the documentary with you; for Anne and all of the other survivors that have been ignored and silenced over the years, especially those who are still alive and want justice, not in the form of monetary gain, but just so that their voices can be heard and the deaf, dumb, and blind can see, hear, and discuss something that has been hidden from them. Their justice comes in the form of ending that final insult. Anne Silke died before her story had the chance to be made widely public in her own country, where her neighbours and friends could for the first time truly understand what this wonderful woman had been through. Help us tear down the walls of secrecy and empower those who were stripped of all of their power simply because of the way in which they were born.