Although Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie debuted at the London Film Festival last year, no footage from the project has appeared online, nor has it received a wide release.
Thanks to the documentary showing at the Tribeca Film Festival, a clip has finally emerged online and in it, Theroux meets a fairly disruptive member of the Church.
“You’re trespassing,” implores Catherine the Scientologist, “Are you so stupid you cannot see the sign that says road closed? Is there anything you don’t understand about this? Closed? Do you know what a road is?”
Theroux attempts to show he has a permit to be there, but to no avail as she enters her car, leaving just one man outside the vehicle filming the BBC journalist.
In a statement alongside the clip, hosted by EW, Theroux said: “More than 10 years ago, I approached the church to see if they might let me in to make a documentary.
“I thought I might be able to bring a sense of nuance and perspective to people’s understanding of a faith that has been much ridiculed. Just as I have done with other non-mainstream stories, I hoped to see it from the inside and make a human connection with its clerics and congregants. But I was repeatedly turned down.”
Unfortunately, Theroux was never invited into the church’s main complex. Along with director John Dower, the pair created re-enactments of what happens in the compounds for the camera.
“In the course of making my film I came to believe I was being tailed by private investigators, someone in Clearwater, Florida (Scientology’s spiritual mecca) attempted to hack my emails, we were filmed covertly, I also had the police called on me more than once, not to mention a blizzard of legal letters from Scientology lawyers,” he continued.
“And yet, at every step I remained open to Scientology’s good points and tried to see it for what it is: a system of belief that is not so different from other religions, capable of enlarging the soul as well as crushing the spirit.”
The full film will be shown at Tribeca Film Festival on the 17 April, with no wide-release yet dated. Meanwhile, Theroux will be keeping himself busy with two new documentaries.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies