A FILM that looks at clerical sex abuse in the U.S and was co-produced by Fermanagh-born journalist Trevor Birney has picked up five Emmy award nominations.

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God details the role that Pope Benedict played in investigating the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church while he was a cardinal. The film by Oscar winning film-maker Alex Gibney follows four deaf men who set out to expose the priest who abused them from Milwaukee through Ireland's churches, and all the way to the Vatican, leading to a case that spanned three decades and resulted in a lawsuit against the Pontiff.

It was co-produced by Mr Birney, a former journalist with The Impartial Reporter, and his colleague Ruth O'Reilly at Below the Radar in Belfast. Eimhear O'Neill was associate producer.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter this week, Mr Birney said: "As co-producers of Mea Maxima Culpa, Below The Radar is delighted at news of the nominations, and particularly proud of the company's association with director, Alex Gibney and such a powerful and important film." He paid tribute to the Irish Film Board who backed the documentary and lent support to it.

"Mea Maxima is Alex Gibney's work and he deserves all the credit. He is one of the best documentary directors in the world today consistently producing work of the very highest quality on subject matter that has universal impact," he said.

The Below the Radar team have been working with Mr Gibney for over five years now. One of the company's "brightest talents" Eimhear O'Neill spent several months in New York working on this film. Ruth O'Reilly has also been spent time in the New York office.

Mr Birney continued: "I am now working with Alex on a couple of new documentary projects. We have been commissioned to produce a film for the sports channel, ESPN and are jointly developing another film proposal.

"We are incredibly proud of the film and look forward to it picking up more awards soon." Mea Maxima is short-listed for: Outstanding Writing for Non-fiction Programming (Alex Gibney); Outstanding Directing for Non-fiction Programming (Alex Gibney); Outstanding Cinematography for Non-fiction Programming (Lisa Rinzler); Outstanding Picture Editing for Non-fiction Programming (Sloane Klevin) and Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (Ivor Guest and Robert Logan).

The ceremony is being held on September 15 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

In February, Mea Maxima was awarded The George Morrison Feature Documentary Award at the Irish Film and Television Awards in Dublin.

The film has also been sold to a number of international broadcasters, including German and French network Arte as well as Canada's CBC, Finland's YLE, Denmark's DR, Sweden's SVT, Israel's DBS, HBO Ole in Latin America and HBO in the Netherlands.

Netflix has also acquired digital rights to the 90-minute documentary in the UK.

It drew an audience of 453,000 (2.7 per cent) when it aired on BBC4 in June, well up on the 271,000 (1.7 per cent) slot average.

Content chief executive officer John Schmidt said: "Alex's masterful, gripping work has once again attracted the attention of buyers around the world and across every media platform, as well as the much-deserved acknowledgement of the creative community."