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The first press screening of Amy Berg’s An Open Secret, a documentary about child sexual abuse and exploitation in Hollywood, has been canceled at the request of the film’s rights holder.
The screening had been scheduled for Tuesday morning in New York City by Doc NYC, the film festival that has slated the film’s world premiere for Nov. 14. It would have been the first look at the potentially controversial movie, which the festival describes on its website as “a sobering look at the lives of children who were exploited and assaulted by some of Hollywood’s most powerful players.”
It is unclear whether the film will still screen at the festival itself. “We’re still hopeful that the rights-holder, Esponda Productions, will deliver the film in time for the public screening. At this point, the screening is sold out, said festival spokesperson Susan Norget.
In a brief statement announcing the cancellation, the festival said, “Doc NYC regrets to announce that tomorrow’s [Nov. 4] press screening of An Open Secret is canceled at the request of the film’s rights-holder, Esponda Productions.”
“I’m proud of the film that I made and the cut that I delivered to Esponda Productions,” Berg said in a statement of her own. “I had hoped that Doc NYC would give the victims the opportunity for their story to at long last be told and am disappointed in Esponda Productions’ decision to cancel the Doc NYC screening of an An Open Secret.”
Esponda produced the film in association with Berg’s production company, Disarming Films. The sudden cancelation suggests that Berg and Esponda, headed by Matthew Valentinas and Gabe Hoffman, who served as executive producers, are no longer in agreement about the final shape of the film. Valentinas and Hoffman could not be immediately reached for comment.
The film reportedly looks at the sexual exploitation of younger men by powerful figures in Hollywood. In part, it focuses on the Digital Entertainment Network, an Internet startup formed in the late ’90s by Marc Collins-Rector, who in 2004 pleaded guilty to charges of child enticement. The film also is expected to cover the allegations raised by Michael Egan against director Bryan Singer and other Hollywood figures earlier this year; in August, Egan dropped his lawsuit against Singer, who had said, “The facts will show this to be the sick, twisted shakedown it is,” as well as the suits that he had filed.
In the current issue of Elle magazine, Valentinas, an entertainment attorney, says that he and Hoffman, who is a partner in a hedge fund, were looking to produce a documentary when Valentinas heard actor Corey Feldman talk about exploitation he had encountered early in his career. “It’s not that Hollywood pedophiles are any different than the ones in a small town, Valentinas told the magazine. “But what they have to use is, instead of taking a kid out for ice cream, they’re taking a kid on a jet to a movie premiere in London.” Valentinas then approached Berg, an Oscar nominee for the 2006 feature documentary Deliver Us From Evil, which looked at sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, about directing An Open Secret, which the filmmaker has been working on for the past two years.
Future public screenings of An Open Secret are also in question. Berg, who has not yet found a distributor for the film, told Elle that she planned to release the film herself at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood on Nov. 7, but a spokesperson for the theater said that the film is not currently slated to show there. The film also hasn’t been submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for best feature documentary and was not on the list of 134 docs that are under consideration, which the Academy released last week.
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