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Thread: Bombshell Scientology Film: Alex Gibney on Cruise, Travolta and 'The Prison of Belief

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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    Default Bombshell Scientology Film: Alex Gibney on Cruise, Travolta and 'The Prison of Belief

    This could be fun at Sundance...


    Bombshell Scientology Film: Alex Gibney on Cruise, Travolta and 'The Prison of Belief'
    The Hollywood Reporter ‎January‎ ‎21‎, ‎2015 By Kim Masters

    This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Lance Armstrong is not mad at Alex Gibney. No, not even though Gibney’s 2013 documentary, which was supposed to be about Armstrong’s triumphant emergence from retirement to compete in the Tour de France, turned out to be an exposé on doping called The Armstrong Lie.

    "I remember vividly when he reached out to me to tell me he had selected the title," Armstrong says. "I said, ‘OK, it doesn’t make me feel great,’ but I don’t blame him. I did lie. What the f—- are you going to say?" He still thinks Gibney portrayed him as more untruthful than he actually was, but he admires the filmmaker’s brains as well as his willingness to tackle subject matter such as that of Gibney’s new film. "This Scientology thing — that just takes a huge set to take on," Armstrong says. "But he has the courage to do it."

    Gibney’s film, based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 best-seller Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, is set to become one of the most-talked-about documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival. The exhaustively researched (and lawyered) exploration of the controversial church and its ties to Hollywood is set for a Jan. 25 premiere at the MARC Theater and will air March 16 on HBO after an awards-qualifying theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles.

    Going Clear is the latest film to emerge from what has become Gibney’s amazingly prolific factory of awards-magnet documentaries. (Having written about Scientology over the years, I should state that I am a talking head in the film.) It features vintage footage of enigmatic church founder L. Ron Hubbard as he builds his empire as well as rare sequences shot inside Scientology gatherings, some of which include the church’s biggest star, Tom Cruise.

    "I think what viewers will get from this is a visceral sense of what it’s like to be inside the church," says Gibney. Hint: a lot of upbeat oratory from church head David Miscavige, often followed by rapturous applause. The film brings to life much of the material covered in Wright’s book — one former church member alleges on camera that Miscavige privately heaped ridicule on aspects of Cruise’s personal life — but there is also material that was not in the book and is being kept secret until the premiere.

    Featuring interviews with several fallen-away high-level church officials, the film paints a damning portrait of the involvement of Scientology’s highest-profile members, Cruise and John Travolta, which continues despite numerous allegations against the church that claim forced labor and other abuse under Miscavige’s leadership. At one point, Wright ponders what might curb Miscavige’s power. The IRS could strip Scientology of its nonprofit status, he muses, or “some of these celebrity megaphones could turn against the church. And Tom Cruise should be leading that chorus.”

    Representatives for Cruise and Travolta declined to comment on the film (which they obviously haven’t seen). On Jan. 16, the Church of Scientology took out full-page ads denouncing the film in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, featuring a large photo of Gibney. A headline, alluding to a notorious article on campus rape that did not stand up to scrutiny, asks, “Is Alex Gibney’s Upcoming HBO ‘Documentary’ a Rolling Stone/UVA Redux?” The text that follows alleges that the movie relies on discredited sources. “The ad speaks for itself,” says Scientology spokeswoman Karen Pouw in an email to THR, adding that Gibney and HBO have not provided the church with the allegations in the film, so it could respond. (Gibney says he approached church members and officials and was either rebuffed or asked to comply with what he calls “unreasonable conditions.”) While the church supports free speech, Pouw adds, “Free speech is not a free pass to broadcast or publish information.”

    Certainly the film includes extensive interviews with former longtime church members, including Crash director Paul Haggis, Miscavige lieutenant Marty Rathbun and Spanky Taylor, who says she worked in the church’s Los Angeles Celebrity Centre and was Travolta’s liaison until she fell out of favor with Scientology officials and was forced into a prison-like setting that wouldn’t meet Geneva Convention standards. Taylor recounts her dramatic 1978 escape with her baby — a story that she revealed for the first time in Wright’s book — in her first and likely only on-camera interview. Though she spoke to THR, she says she will not talk to the media in connection with the film.

    "I was certainly courted by NBC and a lot of people to be a spokesperson for Larry’s book," she says. "But I have not been part of the church for decades. And I have a healthy respect for what they’re capable of doing to their critics." Still, she felt that Wright, who had done Pulitzer-winning work, offered the best opportunity to tell her story if she was ever going to tell it. And Gibney, with an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, his 2007 film about torture and the war on terror, also seemed like the right choice. “He sent me a great body of his work,” Taylor says, including his Emmy-winning 2012 film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, which explored pedophilia in the Catholic Church. “I was very impressed. I thought he was unbiased and honest and forthright.”

    At 61, Gibney, a soft-spoken, married father of three grown kids, says he is not opposed to telling uplifting tales, but he does seem to repel them. Torture, pedophilia, financial malfeasance (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and a prostitution scandal (Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer) contributed to his being recognized in 2013 with a career achievement award by the International Documentary Association. He attempts to make each of his films a cinematic experience rather than a straight-ahead narration. He’s got a number of music documentaries under his belt (among them Finding Fela! and Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown), but Gibney is best known for his unerring instinct for flawed, delusional characters like the subject of Client 9. “Spitzer and his aides would always talk about how powerful people had it in for him and he had to be super-careful,” Gibney says. “And then he’d call 22-year-old Ceci [Suwal] about an escort. Lance Armstrong — everybody in the world is gunning for him so [he thinks], ‘I’m going to come out of retirement and challenge everybody all over again.’ “

    https://www.yahoo.com/movies/bombshe...751189867.html
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    Elite Member nwgirl's Avatar
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    So....cue this dude committing "suicide" by shooting himself in the back of the head from 30 feet away?
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    Elite Member faithanne's Avatar
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    ^Surely they wouldn't be that stupid? Of course they would.

    I cannot wait to see this.
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    This should be interesting.
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    There's plenty of damning info already out there about this cult. Another docco/movie probably won't make much difference but I'm glad someone is speaking out. If it makes just one person think twice about signing up its worthwhile but I doubt it will make anyone leave as they won't be allowed to see it.
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    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    I thought it was weird that there was a full page ad in todays USA TODAY touting how much Scientologists donate to charity.
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    Elite Member MsDark's Avatar
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    For me to get too excited there needs to be something in this film to send someone to jail, make the cult lose tax-exempt status or open the door on someone famous who is trapped in the closet.
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    Where is Shelly!!!!!!
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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    Umm look to the left.
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    Elite Member SHELLEE's Avatar
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    You know what I mean!
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    Your other left, bless your heart.
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    Gold Member exippy's Avatar
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    As Dr Phil would say. What's the payoff they are getting for being Scientologists?

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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    Really long, but interesting article at the link.

    https://www.yahoo.com/movies/s/scien...050000167.html
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    Silver Member spiderpig's Avatar
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    Fascinating. BTW, didn't Tommy Davis disappear awhile ago? The story circulating was that he was in retreat in Texas or something.

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    I maintain I had nothing to do with it, even though I have been named in the title.

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