Anti-Scientology drama a ratings hit for ARD

German TV movie 'Till Faith Do Us Part' based on real events

COLOGNE, Germany -- A German TV-movie about Scientology that claims to reveal the dark side of the organization was a huge ratings hit for public broadcaster ARD, with 8.7 million viewers tuning in Wednesday night, a 27% market share.

Germany has long been at odds with Scientology. Most here view the organization with suspicion. During the shooting of Brian Singer's war film "Valkyrie" in Berlin, famed Scientologist Tom Cruise was savaged in the German press for his beliefs.

The ARD film, "Till Faith Do Us Part" is a drama inspired by a real events. It focuses on a young couple in Hamburg. They both join Scientology. The husband becomes disenchanted as the group takes his money and brainwashes his wife. They separate and he begin a legal battle over the custody of their young child.

"Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous organization with social darwinistic designs," ARD spokesman Lars Jakob told THR.

Producers Teamworx based the story on real events and testimony from former Scientology members. They shot "Till Faith Do Us Part" in secret, fearing legal challenges from the group. Teamworx was also careful to label the film a drama, not a docu-drama, and say the story is not directly based on any living person.

Scientology has not sued ARD but on Wednesday they posted their own documentary online at which claims to tell the true story behind the film. In the video, a Scientology member interviews a mother and son, both Scientologists, about a custody battle in 2002/2003. They blame Hamburg politician Ursula Caberta, a vehement anti-Scientology activist and advisor on "Til Faith Do Us Part," for forcing the legal confrontation and destroying their family.

Telepool is handling world sales of "Till Faith Do Us Part" and will present the film to buyers at MIP-TV.