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Friday, 3/13/15: Theatrical Opening of Going Clear Scientology Documentary


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Deadline Hollywood: Alex Gibney Scientology Documentary Highlights Specialty Box Office Weekend


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Oscar-winner Alex Gibney has taken on organized religion before but his latest documentary, Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief, has turned into a head-on collision with church officials. The film bows this weekend in limited theatrical release by HBO, and is the most notable of the weekend’s new specialty releases.

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Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief
Director-writer: Alex Gibney
Writer: Lawrence Wright (book)
Subjects: Paul Haggis, Lawrence Wright, Mike Rinder, Mary Rathbun, Jason Beghe
Distributor: HBO Docs

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Gibney turns the spotlight on Scientology two years after he went after the Catholic Church in 2012’s Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God (also an HBO film).

Based on Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of nearly the same name, Going Clear profiles eight Scientology members, including A-list Hollywood celebrities such as Haggis. The doc details how the church cultivates true believers, their experiences and what they are willing to do in the name of their religion.

The film highlights the church’s origins with founder L. Ron Hubbard, a science-fiction writer, to its Hollywood prominence. Going Clear‘s core, though, is a series of shocking revelations by former insiders, including high-ranking, recognizable members who describe a systematic history of abuse and betrayal of church officials, including current leadership. Going Clear also moves beyond the book’s allegations to new ones, such as alleged harassment of Nicole Kidman, the former wife of church titan Tom Cruise.

“I was interested in Wright’s book because it was a deep dive into the psychology of blind faith,” said Gibney. “It certainly helped to explain Scientology, but also put in perspective what is going on broadly today, whether it be ISIS, or people’s unyielding belief in politicians or religions.”

Ahead of its Sundance premiere, Scientology began a media assault on Gibney and the film, taking out ads in major newspapers and posting heavily on he internet. Gibney said the church’s tactics were a step beyond from past forms of what he describes as harassment against perceived enemies.

“I was a little bit surprised,” Gibney said. “What surprised me was how frontal [their response] has been. In the past, Scientology would smear its critics behind the scenes…but this was very much out front with full-page ads in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.”

Gibney began working on Going Clear two years ago with HBO, BSkyB and Content Media (which owns half of Gibney’s company Jigsaw). The big-screen version of Going Clear features on-screen interviews with individuals who participated in Wright’s book, including filmmaker Haggis and others.

“I’d say it took a certain amount of work to get some people to appear,” said Gibney. “It’s one thing to be in a book but when your face is out there, you become a much more public figure. And frankly, the film will reach many more people than the book did. So I think there was pause. I think there was also pause because they knew what kind of abuse they would be in for, and now I’ve seen it.”

Going Clear will open theatrically in L.A., New York and San Francisco ahead of its HBO premiere March 29.

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Gold Meritorious Patron
I'm eagerly awaiting the next showing of Going Clear, to begin in less than an hour.
Oh, be still, my beating heart!


Declared SP
Yes I know I take the wide availability of movies here for granted. Many US cities as large or larger don't get the same choices.

But, other than that....Austin really sucks folks. Do not move here!!! Tell all your friends. Don't believe the hype. NO! We're closing the borders down. There's just too damn many who've already migrated here recently. :melodramatic:

That's what happens when so much of the US is still struggling economically. The handful of boomtowns just get overwhelmed....until the day of our bust arrives. And it will. :yes: Eventually....

I came, I saw, and I left back to Los Angeles. It was alright, but LA is still better.


Declared SP
I'll be there at 2:30p tomorrow (Sat, March 14th, 2015). If anyone else is there feel free to say your hellos and all that good stuff.


Gold Meritorious Patron
I'm eagerly awaiting the next showing of Going Clear, to begin in less than an hour.
Oh, be still, my beating heart!

This is a masterfully done documentary that for the millions of people who will view it will be a very unsettling and powerful experience.

As a 20 year in, 25 year under the radar ex-Scientologist, it wasn't until the final credits rolled

that I realized that throughout the film I had been clenching the coat

that i had rested on my lap so tightly that my fingertips turned blue.

So for me it was a gripping experience in more ways than one.

Alex Gibney has a compassionate yet clear lens and captures the essence of being a Scientologist...

both the highs and lows, the good and the bad, in a thoughtful and dimensional manner.

Every one of his subjects fits a different piece of the puzzle into place, and there is enough overlap in the narrative that it provides confirmation.

The audience loved the film, and the discussion afterwards confirmed my belief that Gibney and Wright have performed a

very valuable public service.

I consider myself fairly knowledgable about the subject, yet I was quite surprised at several revelations.

It is no wonder the film took Sundance by storm, and has received glowing reviews.

I will look forward to seeing it again on the 29th, without a coat to grip this time.

Whether one reads the book first, or views the film first, doesn't particularly matter,

so long as one does both, imho.

And, as always, your mileage may vary.


Declared SP
'Going Clear' was awesome. I never thought that a 2 hour film could so completely and accurately capture the monstrosity that is Scientology. It made me laugh and it made my cry. My two favorite parts of the film were:

-When Jason Beghe says, "Scientologists are full of shit." Then he goes on to do a mocking facial expression that resembles what Scientologists actually look like. I was laughing so hard.

-When Marty Rathbun describes what it is like to have to continually see himself and be reminded of his actions when he was in the Sea Org. I have never seen someone look so sad and defeated. He was talking about Karma, and I wanted to grab him and say, "Fuck Karma. Stop beating yourself up. You don't deserve this." It was so hard to watch and it really brought me to tears.

Alex Gibney did a wonderful job taking everyone through the history of Scientology all the way to present day and covering all the scandals along the way.'

It was especially satisfying to hear John Travolta and Tom Cruise exposed for the assholes that they truly are. Spanky, Rathbun, Rinder, Gibney, and even David Miscavige (through the recordings of him interspersed throughout the film) all had a hand in demonstrating how these movie stars callously ignore the abuse happening right under their nose, and to people that they have the nerve to call friends.

Almost equally satisfying was watching the words, music, and recordings of the Scientologists turned against the Scientologists and used to demonstrate just how insane the cult really is.

I took a friend with me that has had no exposure to Scientology. She walked out shaking her head. She had no idea what to think. She cried at several parts, laughed at others, and just shook her head at things like the field of flowers that was planted for Tom Cruise.

The film is riveting and emotionally taxing. I think that everyone, besides the Scientologists, will enjoy watching this documentary.