The “pleasantly eccentric” film takes an unconventional approach to a well-covered topic, using an ex-senior church official to reconstruct incidences within the church.
With the initial planning stages starting two years ago, Theroux began to devise a journalistic strategy that would counteract the group’s infamous hate of the press. He chose to tell the story of the church’s controversial leader, David Miscavige, through acted anecdotes by ex-Scientologists, so as to not pry directly into the church itself.
Aware of their distrust of any group outside of their own religion, Theroux conceived the idea of “a film within a film”, as he quickly realised that they would also be filming him. ‘The Act of Killing’ has been referenced as an example of how “reenactments could work as emanations from the contributors themselves”, which would ultimately drive the story.
The BBC-funded ‘My Scientology Movie’ has appeared in various incarnations since 2015, airing first at the London Film Festival and then leaking online in UK and US a year later. It made its on-screen debut in US earlier this month, and was met with a variety of spin-offs that attempt to tell the story from the active member’s perspective.
To find out more about the various reactions toward the controversial film, you can head to Salon’s coverage of the release here.