Amy Berg has become a powerful advocate for vulnerable children just through her work on award-winning documentaries. West of Memphis was one of the best films about the three teenagers who were arrested and controversially imprisoned for the murder of three 8-year-olds. In the Oscar-nominated exposé Deliver Us From Evil, she examined the role of the Catholic Church in covering up the crimes of a pedophile priest in California.
An Open Secret continues that mission, shining a light on the sexual predators who prey on the eager and naive child actors who come to Hollywood with dreams of becoming movie stars. Executive producers Gabe Hoffman and Matthew Valentinas were shocked into making a film about child sex abuse in Hollywood after the late Corey Haim acknowledged that he had been a victim as a famous kid-actor. “Pedophilia has always been the biggest problem in Hollywood, and it will always be the biggest problem,” Corey Feldman says in the documentary. “They’re everywhere.”
The controversial film screened last fall at the New York Doc Fest, but will make its international debut at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19 before opening in U.S. theaters on June 5. Many observers feared that the film’s unflattering portrayal of the movie industry might prevent it from landing a distributor, but Vesuvio Entertainment and Rocky Mountain Pictures recently acquired the film and announced release plans. The filmmakers aren’t running from the controversy—the poster calls the movie, “The Secret Hollywood Doesn’t Want You to Know,” and the trailer paints a picture of a culture where predatory Hollywood gatekeepers cultivate trust with the families of children who want to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp. Several entertainment-industry figures have been arrested for their crimes, but the film argues that a cloak of fear and silence continue to enable others who remain a danger to children.