A struggling family accepts a substantial pay-off from a renowned filmmaker to keep silent about the molestation of their child. They felt this would enable the family to heal and move on – they were so wrong.

Dark Money

The Mensahs are a cheerful, working-class family from North London. Cinema manager EMMANUEL ‘MANNY’ MENSAH is married to part-time bank cashier SAM. Manny and Sam live with their son ISAAC (13) and daughter JESS (19). Both Jess and Isaac are talented actors but Isaac is the ‘star’. He has recently finished filming a major role in a Hollywood movie – a role which 500 other youngsters worldwide auditioned for. Manny and Sam were overjoyed when Isaac and his chaperone CHERYL DENON return home from filming in Los Angeles. However, the dream is then destroyed by Isaac showing his parents a secret recording on his mobile of JOTHAM STARR, the movie’s producer, molesting him. Manny and Sam’s world is shattered. At Isaac’s insistence, they keep the abuse secret from Jess and the rest of the family and investigate whether they can pursue pressing charges against Jotham. The unwanted attention this would bring, on top of the legal fees needed to bring any case in America, scares Manny and Sam. They don’t want the process of getting justice to be more traumatic for the family than the incident itself. Jotham’s lawyers then propose a different way out – a substantial pay-off. The lawyers pass over a piece of paper with a figure written on it. The parents count the zeros. 12 MONTHS LATER: The family have moved from their dilapidated three-bedroom council flat to a new large home in a posh neighbourhood. Despite their new-found wealth, Manny refuses to be defined by the money and continues to go to work as normal. Isaac struggles at school because half of the pupils are jealous of his success and the other half only talk to him because of it. This leads him to become more withdrawn and spend more time with his wayward half-brother, TYRONE (13), who now lives with the Mensahs. Isaac becomes more rebellious and disrespectful, causing friction between Manny and Sam. The money and the lies have put a wedge between Jess and the family. As resentment builds up within her, Jess starts to distance herself from Isaac and her family. With Isaac’s film hitting cinemas, the family’s world starts to fall apart. Investigative journalist DOMINIC NADESAN tracks Manny down. He suspects the family have lied to cover up a pay-off from Jotham. Manny does his best to keep Dominic at arm’s length, but the pressure of having to do publicity for the film starts to tell on Isaac. Worse still, the film’s premiere sees the family come face-to-face with Jotham. Isaac challenges Manny to confront Jotham and get him to account for what he did. However, when finally faced with Jotham, Manny freezes, leaving Sam and Isaac feeling deeply betrayed. A FURTHER THREE MONTHS LATER: Isaac is under constant pressure, struggling with the need to keep his own abuse silent whilst watching the news and seeing other high-profile abusers being brought to justice. He has constant headaches and starts over medicating.

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