The extensive and scathing exposé digs into the history of founder L. Ron Hubbard, the real reason behind the breakup of Scientology member Tom Cruise and his now ex-wife Nicole Kidman, what goes on behind the closed doors of its Los Angeles Church and much more over the course of its two-hour running time.
Gibney was joined onstage following the screening by Wright, some of the filmmaking team and a number of former Scientology members who were profiled in the film, all of whom received a warm standing ovation.
As documented in the film, Rinder and anyone who leaves the Church to go on to criticize it publicly are surveyed by the its members and frequently harassed. Another former Scientologist who appears in the film said that he and Rinder were both photographed by the same private investigator in the Salt Lake City airport when they arrived for the festival.
Gibney and Wright were asked if they’ve also been targeted in a similar manner. “We’ve received many cards and letters,” Gibney said wryly.
“Nothing compared to what the people who were in the church,” Wright added. “The kinds of threats that I’ve received as a reporter and Alex have subsequently received have been predominately legal. But they’re not the kind of the things trained on the people who have left the church. What I want to underscore is the tremendous amount of courage it took for people to come out.”
Gibney revealed that TV networks lacked the courage his many subjects portrayed by coming forward with their stories. “None of the major networks would license the filed footage [we needed] to us, so we had to fair-use the footage. Why? Normally that’s not a problem, but they did their own risk benefit analysis and refused to license this material to us. We hope that this film and Larry’s book will start the process where more media will say, ‘We don’t care anymore. We’re going to pursue this no matter what.'”