Hot Docs 2016: ‘My Scientology Movie’ and ‘The Slippers’

My Scientology Movie (DIR. John Dower)

By: Addison Wylie

My Scientology Movie had its sights set on portraying controversial religion with the involvement of the Church of Scientology, and without much of a bias.  However, refusals to cooperate from the Church forced director John Dower and journalist Louis Theroux to think differently.

The documentary starts riding by the seat of its pants by hiring actors to portray notable Scientologists (including leader David Miscavige) and using former believers and promotional videos to cite their references.  The premise works for the filmmakers, but suddenly there’s another twist.  The production is harassed by outsiders – Scientologists who have been sent out to document the film and keep tabs on Mr. Theroux.  Some of them have their own videocameras.

My Scientology Movie takes shape over time.  It begins as an overall exposé of Scientology, and narrows its scope until it’s a film about Miscavige’s alleged aberrant and violent behaviour, as well as the Church’s tactics of intimidation.

Movie goers are always on board with Theroux, even though his dry wit can occasionally spin him into a smug smart aleck.  It’s also thrilling to witness Theroux and his working partner/besmirched former Scientologist Marty Rathbun call each other out.  These heated confrontations give the audience a peek at how much long-term destruction Scientology can cause.

It’s hard not to compare John Dower’s filmmaking to Hot Docs’ equally provocative investigation doc Tickled.  While Tickled is the superior flick, My Scientology Movie is an interesting trip through the unknown.

Catch My Scientology Movie at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Sunday, May 8 at 6:15 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox


The Slippers (DIR. Morgan White)

By: Addison Wylie

Morgan White is quickly establishing himself as one of today’s most cultivated storytellers of cinema.

With his breakout documentary The Rep, he chronicled the demise of repertory cinemas in a modern age of On Demand and VOD through the rise and fall of Toronto’s Underground Cinema.  Just as The Rep showed movie goers why these homegrown locations are special, The Slippers educates audiences as to why movie memorabilia holds more power and history than we may think.  The Slippers centres itself around a hit item that perfectly encapsulates that: The Wizard of Oz’s ruby slippers.

Dorothy’s legendary accessory has been adored, rescued, bought, sold, replicated, and stolen.  It not only represents an iconic symbol in cinema, but also North American culture.  White tracks down experts, archivists, authors, and collectors to discuss the costume’s appreciation while also highlighting why it’s important to preserve items that serve as significant memories.

Along the way, The Slippers spotlight the optimism of costumer Kent Warner and actress Debbie Reynolds – both showbiz personalities tried their mightiest to find ways to save Hollywood’s most precious artifacts.  The gradual documented shift from a golden age of Hollywood to a disconnected business is also quite emotional and relevant to this day.

The Slippers is a lovely film that cocoons itself in fascinating history.  Jeez, even the credits will give you goosebumps.

Catch The Slippers at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Sunday, May 8 at 6:45 p.m. @ The Regent


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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