Apparently there have been some strange goings on at the hands of (what the Church of Scientology is calling) rogue Scientology members hoping to thwart any Oscar hopes for Alex Gibney’s Going Clear. Vanity Fair writes:
The organization’s alleged smear campaign involves making a documentary about and writing a profile of Gibney, according to the Reporter, for which a writer has begun reaching out to members of the Academy’s documentary branch. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Rory Kennedy confirmed that she was one of the documentarians contacted by this writer. The writer, however, did not disclose for which publication he was working.
“In this context, to not say [that he wrote for Scientology magazine Freedom] was disingenuous, and I thought something was suspect,” Kennedy said. “He definitely had an agenda.” The Reporter adds that there have been increased aggression and confrontations during Q&As for the documentary in recent weeks.
The Church’s response to Vanity Fair:
When VF.com reached out for comment, Scientology’s media center said, “This is yet another publicity stunt by Alex Gibney to influence awards voting by spinning legitimate criticism of his one-side propaganda. . .Since we found out about a year ago that Alex Gibney had done a film on Scientology, we have been aggressively answering the false allegations in his film because he never presented us with a single one of these lies before release.”
Of all of the things we know about Alex Gibney, desperate need for publicity is not one of those things. He wouldn’t be the first person to claim harassment at the hands of the church.
This Hollywood Reporter story goes into it in more depth, pointing out how defensive church members are and how personally they’re taking Gibney’s film.
And this strange paragraph, which hasn’t been picked up yet by mainstream press:
The increased hostility comes at a tenuous time for the Church of Scientology, which, in addition to dealing with Going Clear, is in the spotlight for its association with Cathriona White, a 28-year-old Irish makeup artist and girlfriend of Jim Carrey who died of a suspected suicide Sept. 28. White, who was found with pills — including Ambien, Percocet, Propranolol and Zofran — had been active in a Scientology-sponsored “Survival Rundown” therapy program, and several mysterious guards were present at her home in the days following her death (though they were gone when THR visited the home Oct. 6). According to former Scientologists, the “SRD” therapy can be destabilizing.
As far as Going Clear’s Oscar chances, never has the doc category been more competitive than it is this year. The members will either be drawn to Going Clear or they will shy away from the controversy brought by the Church of Scientology. Calling members from the doc branch and trying to smear Gibney is a clumsy and awkward way to try to influence Academy members. Their best option here would have been to just lay low. As it is, they’re helping the film every time they act out.