Alex Gibney: "All of Us Can Be Captured by a Kind of 'Prison of Belief'"

"You think anybody who would be involved in that has got to be a wing nut," says Gibney of Scientology. "I met all these people who had left and they were so smart, perceptive, empathetic."

"The surprise was, it ended up being a kind of journey into understanding the prison of belief," says Going Clear director Alex Gibney on his provocative film on the inner workings of Scientology. "You think of Scientology, you think anybody who would be involved in that has got to be a wing nut. I met all these people who had left and they were so smart, perceptive, empathetic.

"All of us can fall into a belief system that suddenly persuades us to do things that we might otherwise find appalling," he says of the film's ability to invoke deep empathy in the audience to understand how or why a person may become involved with something such as Scientology.

All of the filmmakers at the Documentary Roundtable found it necessary to fight for their place in the mainstream film world, arguing that they were just as much filmmakers as any other director, and there was no separation.

"Any time you make a film, you make a film that has a certain shape and you've chosen certain moments to emphasize or not, but we're dealing the facts and we're dealing with real people, we're not dealing with actors," says Gibney, highlighting the notable difference between documentaries and feature films. Yet, he argues, "These are authored films, they're not meant to be lists of facts. Every viewer should be able to take that into account."

The full Documentary Roundtable will air on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m. ET on Sundance TV. Tune in for the season premiere (the Producer Roundtable) on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 11 a.m. ET.

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