Today’s 2015 Sundance doc profiles wrap up with another alumnus returning to the Documentary Premieres section: Alex Gibney’s GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, an exposé of the workings of the Church of Scientology.
Sundance Program Description:
Following MEA MAXIMA CULPA, his investigation into the Catholic Church, Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney turns his gaze to Scientology in GOING CLEAR, based on the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning author 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, including their experiences and what they are willing to do in the name of religion. The film covers a broad range of material from the church’s origins – punctuated by an intimate portrait of founder L Ron Hubbard – to present-day practices and alleged abuses as reported in the media.
A true master of his craft, Gibney returns to the Sundance Film Festival for the tenth time with a film that no one is going to want to miss. Fearless and fascinating, this latest cinematic opus from the man Esquire dubbed “the most important documentarian of our time” is a powerful exploration of the psychological impact of blind faith – what Lawrence Wright calls the “prison of belief.”
As noted above, the prolific director/producer Alex Gibney has debuted several of his previous films in Park City, most recently last year’s FINDING FELA, WE STEAL SECRETS (2013), and MAGIC TRIP (2011) as director and HISTORY OF THE EAGLES PART ONE (2013) as producer. Joining him here as producers are author Lawrence Wright and Kristen Vaurio, a producer of Gibney’s MEA MAXIMA CULPA. Representing HBO Documentary Films are executive producer Sheila Nevins, whose Sundance credits include fellow 2015 titles KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK, LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER, and THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST, as well as last year’s US Documentary Directing Award winner THE CASE AGAINST 8, CAPTIVATED, and PRIVATE VIOLENCE; and co-producer Sara Bernstein whose most recent Sundance projects include THE CASE AGAINST 8, WHICH WAY IS THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE? (2013), 12TH & DELAWARE(2010) and SECRETS OF THE TRIBE (2010). The doc’s editor, Andy Grieve, previously cut Sundance films WE STEAL SECRETS, THE CARTER (2009), and MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET) (2007).
Why You Should Watch:
Gibney has once again balanced insightful historical information with provocative interviews to investigate a controversial subject that has engendered fascination for decades. The testimony provided makes for utterly compelling viewing and will no doubt be among the most talked about documentaries in this year’s festival.
While there’s no standalone site for the film, for more information on Alex Gibney, visit his film production company’s website. As they become available, I’ll link to upcoming features, such as Indiewire‘s filmmaker interviews and the film’s trailer and website. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.
To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.