The Church Of Scientology Has Begun A Campaign To Prevent “Going Clear” From Getting An Oscar Nomination


October 13, 2015 – As the season for Academy Award nominations nears, some members of the documentary branch of the Academy are claiming that they are being approached by members of the Church of Scientology in an effort to prevent Alex Gibney’s film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief from getting a nomination for Best Documentary.

The film, which talks with 8 past members of Scientology, has obviously hit a nerve with the Church. Reports that the Church was ordered into lockdown — meaning that members were not allowed to watch television, read newspapers, go to the movies or go online because the Church was under attack — appeared several months ago when the film was first released.

Now it appears that the Church, under the leadership of David Miscavige, is attempting to attack the film from many angles. Director Alex Giibney claims that the attacks escalated when the film won three Emmys earlier this year.

“In the last few weeks, Scientology has dramatically ratcheted up its corporate campaign against me and those in the film,” the Academy Award-winning director contends. The Church has started production on a film about Gibney which purports to set the record straight but which Gibney characterizes as harassment. They also plan an article about him in a Scientology magazine and have reached out to his friends and peers.

According to former Scientologists interviewed in the film, this is a common practice  of the Church, whenever someone says something negative about its practices.

That a magazine article about Alex Gibney is in the works has been admitted in part by the Church. Its spokesperson, Karin Pouw, has stated that “Freedom [magazine] has been reaching out for some time for a piece about Alex Gibney’s propaganda film…[but] this has nothing to do with the Academy.” She added, “What is clear to us in all of this is that Alex Gibney can dish it out, but can’t take it. …He’s exceptionally thin-skinned to the point where he tried to censor and shame anyone criticizing him at public events. One would think a documentarian would be more tolerant and open minded.”

Several Academy members back up Gibney’s contention, saying that they have been approached by adherents of the Church in recent days. Documentary writer Mark Bailey and his wife Rory Kennedy, both members of the Academy’s Documentary voting branch, claim to have been contacted by someone named Joe Taglieri who wanted to interview them for an article. Kennedy asserts that he did not admit that he had a connection to the Church despite having written for Freedom Magazine.  “In this context, to not say [that he is writing for the Scientology magazine] was disingenuous, and I thought something was suspect,” Kennedy asserts. “He definitely had an agenda.”

Other members of the Documentary branch of the Academy have also been approached by Taglieri. They assert that he did not identify himself as connected to the Church at first, but did tell them what magazine he was writing for when asked.

In Florida, where the Church has its spiritual headquarters, two theaters were persuaded to refuse screenings of Gibney’s film.

In addition, when Gibney has attended events where Going Clear is the subject of the evening, people have shown up and created incidents. At an event for the International Documentary Association in Los Angeles, a man called Randall Stith approached Gibney and told him that he was making a documentary film about him. After screening Going Clear, Stith and Norman Taylor, the ex-husband of one of the former Scientologists who appeared in the film (“Spanky” Taylor, John Travolta’s former handler), used the Q & A session to belittle the woman.

At a second screening, Sara Goldberg and Mike Rinder, both former Scientologists who appeared in the film, were attacked by Goldberg’s ex-husband in a screaming match (so characterized by the moderator, Mike Deeson) in which they attempted to discredit Rinder and Goldberg’s personal lives.

Rinder said of the incident, “It’s really pretty bizarre to me that they just keep doing this crazy stuff that is such a clear-cut demonstration of the veracity of both Larry’s book and Alex’s film.”

It is uncertain whether the Church’s actions have swayed many voters. It is well-known that numerous Academy members are also members of the Church.

FilmRise has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

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