Entertainment & Arts

Sky Atlantic to air controversial Scientology documentary

Scientology community center in Los Angeles Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Church of Scientology has denounced the film as being informed by "misfits"

Sky Atlantic is to show a controversial documentary on Scientology, despite pressure from the church.

Alex Gibney's Going Clear traces the origins of the organisation and profiles former members, including Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis.

It has alleged abusive practices at Scientology's US headquarters, which members have denounced as "one-sided, bigoted propaganda".

The film premiered to wide acclaim in the US in March.

It became one of the most talked about films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was watched by 5.5 million viewers on HBO. It also garnered seven Emmy nominations.

Film critic Mark Kermode, writing in the Observer, described the documentary as "chilling, damning stuff," while Geoffrey Macnab called it "fascinating" in The Independent.

The Church of Scientology has previously threatened to use the UK's libel laws to challenge "any false or defamatory content" if it is broadcast in the UK.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gibney won an Oscar for his documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, which looked at the torture practices of the United States

Although an initial screening, in April, was postponed, Sky has now confirmed it will be shown on 21 September.

"Both Sky, and the producers of the film, have sought legal advice at every stage of the process and are confident the film complies with legal requirements in the territories in which we are screening the film," a spokesman for Sky told The Guardian.

Going Clear was a joint production between Sky Atlantic and US broadcaster HBO.

Zai Bennett, Director of Sky Atlantic, said: "I'm hugely proud that Sky Atlantic has co-produced Going Clear, especially in light of its recent success gaining seven Emmy nominations. I'm sure that Sky audiences will be captivated by Alex Gibney's remarkable film."

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