Following the HBO documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God", his investigation into sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney turns his gaze to Scientology in GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright.
Gibney profiles eight former members of the Church of Scientology, whose most prominent adherents include A-list Hollywood celebrities, shining a light on how the church cultivates true believers, detailing their experiences and what they are willing to do in the name of religion.
.... The heart of the film is a series of shocking revelations by former insiders, including high-ranking and recognizable members such as acclaimed screenwriter Paul Haggis ("Crash"), as they describe the systematic history of abuse and betrayal by Church officials, including the current leadership of the Church.
[from the film Synopsis on the HBO Documentaries site]
Something weird happens if you click on the following link to this Youtube clip. It's an interview with the director and author of the book, Going Clear , BUT BELIEVE IT OR NOT.......while it is loading, at times a Church of Scientology PR ad pops up beforehand! Now THAT is targeted advertising at work! How they got Youtube to arrange this, and how much their
ad propaganda cost the Church, is a mystery...... :
$$$$ $$$$ $$$$
Ten days before the film's première, the Church of Scientology took out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times to denounce Going Clear, comparing it to a discredited story about campus rape published by Rolling Stone magazine. Gibney subsequently said that he was grateful for the church's advertising, as it had attracted much publicity for the film; he only wished "they'd put in showtimes". The church also published a "special report" attacking the film on one of its websites, started a new Twitter account which claimed to be "taking a resolute stand against the broadcasting and publishing of false information" and bought numerous Google search results relating to the film in order to direct searchers to its anti-Going Clear pages. The church also posted a series of short films on its website attacking the filmmakers and their interviewees, with titles such as "Alex Gibney Documentary 'Going Clear' Propaganda", "Marty Rathbun: A Violent Psychopath," "Mike Rinder: The Wife Beater," and "Sara Goldberg: The Home Wrecker."
The church complained that Gibney had declined to interview 25 of its members whom it had put forward to him. According to Gibney; Miscavige, Travolta and Cruise all declined interviews and the church instead offered "a delegation of 25 unidentified individuals, presumably to smear the people in our film", which did not interest him. The church also denounced the film's interviewees as "the usual collection of obsessive, disgruntled former Church members kicked out as long as 30 years ago for malfeasance, who have a documented history of making up lies about the Church for money".
Two of those interviewed in the film, journalist Tony Ortega, and former Scientologist Marc Headley, reported that investigators from the church had surveiled them at Salt Lake City airport as they made their way to the festival. According to Gibney, the church mounted an "organized" and "brutal" response to the appearance of its former members in the film: "Some of them have had physical threats, people threatening to take their homes away, private investigators following them. That's the part that's really heartbreaking." The film-makers reported receiving "lots of cards and letters" from the church, though in their case it had limited its response to "loads of legal paperwork". HBO had earlier said that it had put "probably 160 lawyers" onto the task of reviewing the film in anticipation of challenges from the notoriously litigious church.
The church contacted film critics complaining that their reviews of the film were "filled with bald faced lies" and demanding that they should publish a church statement. Jason Bailey of Flavorwire wrote that "pretty much every critic who wrote about Going Clear" received an email from Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw. He commented that the church did not seem to realise that critics do not usually try to interview people for reviews, and noted how neatly it "comports with the film's portrayal of the Church as a hive of shady, paranoid control freaks." In an email to Flavorwire, Gibney observed that "anytime someone writes something – film criticism or social criticism – about Scientology, the Church of Scientology counter-attacks by smearing critics." Indiewire's Max O'Connell criticised the church's approach as counter-productive, predicting that "their campaign against the film is going to be the best publicity that Alex Gibney and company could ever hope for, if also a hassle for critics and filmmakers and (this is no small thing) a nightmare for the ex-CoS members who dared to speak out against the Church's practices. But then, they don't seem terribly aware that attacking everyone who criticizes you doesn't do a lot of good for your image."