December 2, 2015 — The shortlist for feature length documentaries under consideration for Oscar nominations has been released, and FilmRise is proud to announce that its recent acquisition, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, has made the list.
The Alex Gibney documentary, based on the Lawrence Wright‘s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief (published in 2013), presents a historic and present day view of Scientology and includes interviews with a number of ex-members who quit after many years. It details the abuses and exploitations these people claim they were subjected to.
The film was presented on HBO in March of 2015 with 1.7 million people watching the premiere, making it the channel’s most successful documentary premiere since 2006. In the following two weeks the film attracted more than 5.5 million viewers. HBO has stated that Going Clear is its second most successful documentary this decade; only a Beyoncé music special attracted more viewers.
The movie was nominated for 7 Emmy awards and won 3, including Best Documentary.
The Church of Scientology has made a significant effort to get screenings cancelled and has pressed a campaign to stop the film from being acknowledged by the Academy Awards nominating committee. In addition, people who gave interviews for the film have claimed that they have been harassed and attacked by the Church. A film on Alex Gibney has been produced by the Church while several members on the documentary voting committee claim to have been approached by writers for Freedom magazine — the Church’s private magazine — in an attempt to persuade them that the film should not be considered for nomination.
The Church had taken out full-page ads in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times denouncing the film. The executives at HBO were both stunned and pleased – they considered the ads to be an extraordinary level of publicity. Gibney expressed his appreciation and Sheila Nevins, who heads HBOs documentary division claimed “Docs don’t get full page ads, and when they do, they do really well.”
The list of the final nominations will be announced on January 14th, 2016. The Academy Awards will be presented on February 28, 2016.