Unintentionally reinforcing the image of them presented in Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, members of the church of Scientology have reportedly been contacting members of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences’ documentary branch to ask pointed questions in regards to Gibney’s work. (To be fair to the members of the chruch, they probably haven’t seen the film, or read the Lawrence Wright book it’s based on, so they don’t know how potentially bad and/or fitting this might look.) The calls were ostensibly in regards to a profile on Gibney and his movie in the Scientology-run magazine Freedom, although according to at least one of the Academy members, Last Days In Vietnam director Rory Kennedy, the interviewer seemed “suspect,” and “definitely had an agenda.” Scientologist spokesperson Karin Pouw told reporters that the inquiries were only related to a piece investigating Gibney’s “propaganda film,” saying that they had nothing to do with the Academy.
Despite that, the conversations with Academy members appear to be part of what Gibney has called a “corporate campaign” against the film, its director, and its subjects, which also include things like informing him that church members were making a film about him (in what’s known as the “anything you can do, I can do better” school of retaliation), showing up at press events to heckle and verbally attack former Scientologists, and basically everything else you wouldn’t do if you were trying to convince people your organization wasn’t dangerously thin-skinned and vitriolically resistant to criticism. (It’s possible that there’s some reverse psychology—or whatever reverse thing Scientologists use instead of psychology, we guess—going on here, since an organization with something to hide obviously wouldn’t act this shady, right?)
Going Clear had a short theatrical run last year, which makes it eligible for this year’s Oscars. (It also aired on HBO, where it earned three Emmy awards, including Best Documentary or Nonfiction Special.) The church presumably doesn’t want to give Gibney yet another platform from which to criticize them, hence the director reporting that the group “has dramatically ratcheted up its corporate campaign against me and those in the film” in recent weeks.