Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


Silence tells a delicate and harrowing story of a family dealing with a dark secret which they must resolve. Johnny Tom (August Schellenberg) and his wife, Dolores (Tantoo Cardinal), learn of their daughter’s sexual abuse by a family member and face perhaps the most difficult plight of a lifetime. Johnny is torn by pressure from local authorities; the pride of tribal leadership, which does not want the secret exposed; and his own drive to protect the honor of his daughter and brother. Dolores must decide between supporting her husband’s conviction or breaking the silence that has tainted even her own history. Their daughter, Mary (Annick Obonsawin), is confused and at the same time growing up too fast. As a Native family, they find themselves dealing with a betrayal associated with the modern world in the spirit of the old ways of dignity, retribution, and healing. Sensitive filmmaking by director Jack Darcus and strong performances by the cast make for a heartbreaking and rewarding film.

Jack Darcus, Director
Jack Darcus came into film from his painting career, which included set designs for live theatre. Since 1970 he has completed seven feature films as a writer/director/producer. These include The Portrait (1993) and Deserters (1984), both of which have been highly praised and widely released. Silence, from a screenplay by Hank Schachte, is his eighth feature.

— Heather Rae

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