Alex Gibney's film on the Church of Scientology wins major awards from TV Academy
The Church of Scientology will not be pleased with the results from the Creative Arts Emmys.
Alex Gibney's film Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which attacks the religion and several of its most famous adherents, won several Emmys on Saturday, including the top honor for Documentary or Nonfiction Special. It also won Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming and Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming.
In the directing category Gibney bested some tough competition, including Laura Poitras, who won the Oscar earlier this year for citizenfour and Andrew Jarecki, director of the acclaimed HBO miniseries The Jinx.
Gibney's film is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright's book of almost the same name (Wright's subtitle is "Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief), which paints an unflattering portrait of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The book and the film contain interviews with numerous ex-Scientologists including Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis and actor Jason Beghe, both of whom now describe Scientology as a cult.
In 2013 the Church wrote a response to Wright's book, saying it relied on the accounts of "confessed liars."
Mr. Wright’s book is so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid.
It went on to say, "Mr. Wright's book is so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid. The book is an error-filled, unsubstantiated, bigoted anti-Scientology book. Mr. Wright ignored the real story of Scientology in favor of stale allegations..."
Gibney's film hews very closely to the book, but delves into further detail about Scientology's relationship with its most famous practitioner, Tom Cruise. The film claims the Church concocted a plot to break up Cruise's marriage to Nicole Kidman and to turn their adopted children against her. Like the book, it suggests Cruise accepted lavish gifts from the Church, including customized vehicles and motorcycles tricked out by Scientology faithful who earned minuscule wages for the work. The Church has denied those allegations.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.