Nobody said a film festival like Sundance would be a walk in the park. While Jupiter Ascending debuted as a "surprise screening" to negative sneers, a documentary by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney is causing a louder controversy. However, the only people who seem to have issues with it are Scientologists because, well, the doc says a lot of stuff that they really don't want anybody to hear.
Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief only screened a few days ago, and already the Church of Scientology is foaming at the mouth and demanding retribution. Since the premiere, their Freedom Magazine, which calls itself "the voice of the Church of Scientology," has published a lengthy statement bashing the director and his film. It reads in part:
"The Church has documented evidence that those featured in Gibney’s film regurgitating their stale, discredited allegations are admitted perjurers, admitted liars and professional anti-Scientologists whose living depends on the filing of false claims.
Elsewhere, the Church has set up a new Twitter account in response to Going Clear called Freedom Media Ethics, which takes "a resolute stand against the broadcasting and publishing of false information." Why so serious, Scientologists? Going Clear is based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, which was itself a further exploration of a New Yorker article Wright wrote profiling filmmaker and former Scientologist Paul Haggis. Both men are involved with the documentary along with Giblney. The film goes behind the walls of the Church of Scientology, utilizing rare footage of some of its prominent figures, as well as interviews with those who have defected.
One of the many issues that the Church of Scientology is taking issue with involves statements from Marty Rathbun - a defector who formerly had one of the highest ranking positions in the relgion. He states in Going Clear that the Church was heavily involved in Tom Cruise’s split from Nicole Kidman. As reported by The Daily Beast, this included "re-educat[ing] Cruise’s adopted children with Kidman, Connor and Isabella, into turning against their mother so that Cruise could retain custody." Worse yet, Rathbun also claims to have ordered the tapping of Kidman’s phones upon the request of Cruise and one of the higher-ranking Scientologists, David Miscavige. Going Clear also attempts to prove instances of torture and slave labor, as well as the money-hungry ambitions of Miscavige.
The Church of Scientology has never been known to take anything lying down. According to former members, it’s even noted in their doctrine that anyone who questions or criticizes their belief system are to be considered criminals and discredited. So, one thing is for sure: as Going Clear continues revving up for its debut on HBO later this year, this won’t be the last we’ll hear on the matter.