Scientology doc ‘Going Clear’ shocks Sundance filmgoers

Jan 27, 2015

Photo: Arthur Mola, Invision/AP

By Claudia Puig

Secrecy shrouded the controversial documentary Going Clear: Scientologyand the Prison of Belief, which premiered Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.

Rumors swirled about massive protests, prompting filmgoers to arrive hours in advance to assure they got a seat.

Security was heightened, but no threats materialized.

The festival’s most hotly anticipated documentary did not disappoint, however. The revelations were almost as numerous as the number of lawyers HBO Documentary Films hired to vet the movie (160).

The scathing exposé directed by Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie) is based onLawrence Wright’s riveting 2013 bestseller.

Among the bombshells asserted by eight former church members: Scientology intentionally broke up Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; it tortured some of its members in a prison known as “the hole” and subjected others to hard labor; it harassed those who left the organization and forced their family members to cut off all contact.

The film offers an intimate portrait of founder L. Ron Hubbard (or LRH as he’s referred to by members) and follows the rise of current leader David Miscavige, alleging his misuse of power and that he physically abused several members.

The film also claims that Hubbard beat and threatened his first wife and kidnapped their daughter, leaving her in Cuba in the care of a mentally disabled woman. It also detailed Hubbard’s elaborate cosmology incorporating space aliens, invading spirits, volcanoes and other elements that his sci-fi writing had contained.

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2 comments on “Scientology doc ‘Going Clear’ shocks Sundance filmgoers

  • " It seems free speech isn’t all that free." There's a LITTLE more to it than that. Freedom of speech is freedom of expression; which means you can publicly criticize anything or anyone you want and/or express any view you like. Anyone can say 'the teachings of Scientology, as well as every single religion, are total bull$hit and anyone who joins a cult is a spineless, brainless tw*t who can't distinguish reality from fairy tales."

    However, you cannot outright lie or make unsupported claims against any individual that could potentially harm his or her reputation (which is why 'truth' is always a defense in libel and slander cases). Plus, with 'The Church of Scientology' famous for being litigious, HBO was just being (overly) cautions that it could defend each and every claim made by the film-makers

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