With the screening-at-Tribeca documentary My Scientology Movie, British documentarian and TV personality Louis Theroux fulfils a longheld dream by making a film about the titular organization.
“More than 10 years ago, I approached the church to see if they might let me in to make a documentary,” says Theroux in a statement. “I thought I might be able to bring a sense of nuance and perspective to people’s understanding of a faith that has been much ridiculed. Just as I have done with other non-mainstream stories, I hoped to see it from the inside and make a human connection with its clerics and congregants. But I was repeatedly turned down.”
Eventually, Theroux teamed with director John Dower and the pair set about detailing the story of the church using re-enactments of real events.
“In the course of making my film I came to believe I was being tailed by private investigators, someone in Clearwater, Florida (Scientology’s spiritual mecca) attempted to hack my emails, we were filmed covertly, I also had the police called on me more than once, not to mention a blizzard of legal letters from Scientology lawyers,” says Theroux. “And yet, at every step I remained open to Scientology’s good points and tried to see it for what it is: a system of belief that is not so different from other religions, capable of enlarging the soul as well as crushing the spirit.”
The first Tribeca Film Festival screening of My Scientology Movie takes place on Sunday, April 17, 6:45pm, at Regal Cinemas, Battery Park 11. You can see an exclusive clip from the film, featuring Theroux and a representative of the church, above.