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Tonight on Channel 4: “Scientologists at War”


Meet director Joseph Martin and producer Danielle Clark, the young duo behind tonight’s 1-hour documentary on the UK’s Channel 4, “Scientologists at War.”

The program is part of Channel 4’s “First Cut” series, which features the work of up-and-coming talent in documentary film making.

We ran into Martin and Clark at the home of Marty Rathbun while we were writing about Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold, two former Scientology private eyes.

The third member of their team was Michael Simkin, a veteran filmmaker whose work has taken him around the globe…



The three of them asked us to get involved with the project, and we spent some time with them in Los Angeles, Houston, and in New York. Even then, last fall, they were getting threat letters from Scientology attorneys, who were accusing them of not trying to get the church’s side of things. The truth was, just about every day, we saw Simkin trying to get through to church officials to arrange interviews or tours, to no avail.

We hear that Channel 4 has continued to fend off an onslaught of sound and fury from Scientology’s attorneys, but it hasn’t stopped the airing of the program, which is scheduled for 9 pm tonight in the UK.

We’d love to hear from our readers over there — please tell us your impressions of the film after you’ve watched it.

Martin and Clark set out to explore in-depth the most serious crisis facing the Church of Scientology. It’s a crisis of faith, and it’s leading many veteran church members to declare themselves “independent” of the official church, even in the face of severe harassment by a litigious organization known for its dirty tricks.

The church is facing several other major crises — its drug rehab network, Narconon, is quickly becoming consumed by lawsuits and government investigations; its celebrities are becoming as much liabilities as they once were the church’s best recruiting tool; and five years of relentless attention from activists at Anonymous have taken their toll.

But it’s the wave of high-level defections over the last five or six years that has proved the biggest challenge to Scientology leader David Miscavige. We haven’t seen the final product yet, but based on what we saw filmed, this documentary should go a long way to bring to a large audience the revolt that Miscavige has on his hands.

As soon as we have information about seeing the film here in the US, we’ll let you know.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 17, 2013 at 07:00

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