My Scientology movie

John Dower and Louis Theroux’s in-your-face documentary about the Church of Scientology is intriguing, strange, funny, scary and revealing. Wanting to make a documentary on the church proved difficult when British journalist Theroux was, unsurprisingly, denied access to the church and its leader David Miscavige. They decided to find another approach. They contacted Marty Rathbun. Marty was at one point one of the highest senior member of the church, before he cracked and left everything behind. Rathbun alleges that there is violence within the church, and that Miscavige himself often beats his staff. After Rathbun divulged these affirmation to newspapers, he has been harassed by the church. Rathbun has a temper and sometimes gets frustrated by Theroux’s inquisitive questions. Dower and Theroux’s plan is to audition actors to stand in for Miscavige and actor Tom Cruise, who is the most famous Scientologist. They are going to re-enact some of the speeches and interviews. At audition Andrew Perez impresses everyone and is chosen to read for David Miscavige. And actor Rob Alter looks very much like Tom Cruise. During the filming there are some weird moments. As Theroux and the crew tries to visit some Scientology estates with other former Scientologists, they get a visit from a woman and a cameraman. The lady order them to leave while the cameraman films them, with Theroux’s crew filming the Scientologist’s cameraman, then someone gets out a cell phone and films the whole thing. This is a totally absurd scene. One day Theroux notices that a car is following them. Then, outside of the studio they spot another camera filming them. They refuse to answer why they are filming. If Theroux wanted a reaction from the Church of Scientology, he certainly got it. And trouble maker Theroux is not afraid to be confrontational. Another interesting but nerve-racking look at Scientology. Highly recommended.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

My Scientology movie

Directed by:
John Dower

99 min.

Rated Parental Guidance

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Going clear: Scientology and the prison of belief

After he left the church of scientology, Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis said, “I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.” Going clear: Scientology and the prison of belief is a new HBO documentary. The church’s founder L. Ron Hubbard may have started with good intentions, but as seen in the film it soon became a money grab as he fought the IRS to obtain tax reliefs through a religious organization status. A science fiction writer, Hubbard created what he said was a new cure for mental illness and a self-improvement tool called Dianetics. Then came scientology, the religion that came with a promise of wealth and richness. There is a series exercise called “auditing”, with technical details and rules so complex that it is difficult to comprehend why some got so caught up in it. Some people who have left the church, now call it “Brainwashing”. They lured famous celebrities like actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Hubbard is now dead and the church’s new ruler is now David Miscavige and he is a man with a strong presence. Miscavige has obtained a religious organization status from the IRS. He has, the film alleges, successfully kill the rumors about John Travolta’s sexual orientation. Another story is that following Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s divorce, scientology turned their children against Kidman. But most of the film consists of interviews with ex-scientologists. Beside Paul Haggis, there is Chicago P.D. actor Jason Beghe. Some left because they were troubled by their own actions. Some very prominent scientologists, men and women, were sent to a compound called “the hole”, where they had to live in sub-human conditions, humiliated and beaten, sometimes by David Miscavige himself. And some left when the church ask them to cut off all ties with family members the church deemed “suppressive person” (believed to be working against the church and not to be associated with). But their stories does not end there. According to the filmmakers, once they left, the church started to follow and harass them. There is an internet site attacking director Alex Gibney, the author of the book Lawrence Wright, and everyone interviewed in Going clear: Scientology and the prison of belief. It is a documentary, and like all documentaries (and films, news article, work of art, ect) it is biased, it has a point of view. But I found it credible, and scary. Of course, David Miscavige, Tom Cruise and John Travolta all refused to be interviewed.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Going clear: Scientology and the prison of belief

Directed by:
Alex Gibney
Screenplay by:
Alex Gibney
Based on the book
by Lawrence Wright
119 min.
Rated 14A