The hedge fund manager who backed the film financially, Gabe Hoffman, told the Guardian: “We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever.”
Why would a film directed by an Oscar-nominated director, Amy Berg, get the cold shoulder from Hollywood? It surely has a lot to do with the fact that it reveals evidence of teenage boys and children being sexually abused by prominent film industry players.
The film features interviews with performers who were victimized by authority figures in Hollywood when they were young boys, along with the predators themselves, journalists and other industry figures.
Last year, Hoffman released it himself on the video sharing site Vimeo following the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, and it immediately racked up millions of views. The documentary reveals a pedophile ring in Hollywood that involves directors, agents, managers and publicists preying on young boys and teens who are desperate to make their way into the industry.
Five former child actors are followed in the film, and much of it is focused on Marc Collins-Rector, the co-owner of Digital Entertainment Network, which was known for hosting wild parties with underage boys at the home of Collins-Rector.
Some predators spent years grooming their victims and gaining their families’ confidence before starting to assault them sexually. Others hosted lavish parties where young boys were plied with drugs and alcohol and traded for sex.
Some have been caught – and their punishments have been shockingly lenient – and some are even still working in the industry. For example, the movie profiles a boy who was just 11 when manager Martin Weiss began assaulting him. After pleading no contest to two counts of child molestation, he was sentenced to a year in jail but was freed immediately for time served. Meanwhile, actor and acting coach Brian Peck, who has worked with the kids’ channel Nickelodeon and the X-Men franchise, was convicted on two counts of lewd acts with a child but is now working in the industry again.
Hoffman believes Hollywood blocked the film because it disliked how the industry was portrayed, initially giving it an R rating before finally giving in and rating it PG-13. While film festivals in big cities like London, Toronto, and Los Angeles initially offered it prominent screenings, they later rescinded their offers without explanation. In the film, journalist John Connolly, a Vanity Fair contributor, stated that an article about Hollywood pedophilia was dropped by Details magazine at the last minute, so it isn’t surprising the film has received a similarly chilly reception.
The film’s script writer, Lorien Haynes, said that while mid-ranking execs seemed interested, they were getting overruled “at the top of the food chain” and she got the sense that people were afraid to run it. Of course, the fact that the topic is pretty stomach-turning may have also played a role.
Director Amy Berg was nominated for an Oscar for the 2006 documentary Deliver Us From Evil, which was about sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church, but Hollywood is clearly far less willing to embrace films about its own abuse.
Actor Corey Feldman, who was not involved in the film but is reportedly planning one of his own about the topic, has said repeatedly over the years that he and actor Corey Haim, now deceased, were molested as child actors during the 1980s by movie producers and other staffers; manager Martin Weiss is one of the parties he named.
An Open Secret is an important film that never really got its due, but the tide appears to be turning as more victims speak out. Sadly, there is no way of knowing how many children could have been victimized by Hollywood pedophiles. Some are afraid to come forward, some have been threatened, and some are now enjoying successful careers and worry about their image or upsetting the wrong people. It’s not surprising that Hollywood did its best to bury this documentary, just as it has long done everything in its power to keep victims from speaking out. One can only hope that as more sexual assault victims come forward, more predators will be held accountable for their actions.
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