The documentary movie “An Open Secret” does a wonderful job of exposing the sexual abuse of children in Hollywood. But you’ll probably never see it– not because of the difficult subject matter, but because almost no commercial theaters are willing to screen the film.
Written by Amy Berg, Lorien Hayes and Billy McMillin and directed by Berg, the 2014 film shows that abuse of child actors is pervasive in Hollywood and that most people in the industry know about it. Either they’ve been personally touched by it (pun intended) or know someone who has been. Many powerful people in Hollywood who could ruin the careers of anyone who pushes for justice on this issue are involved.
I applaud the subjects who were willing to share their painful stories and especially the teenager who actually went to court against his agent/abuser. The abuser got only six months in jail and is still in the industry despite solid proof of the exploitation.
It’s a big story, so why isn’t anyone willing to distribute the film? Why has it been pulled from film festivals? Why after seeing the film have network executives refused to have the film on their networks? Why did the Screen Actor’s Guild unsuccessfully sue the filmmakers after seeing the film in which the head of their Young Performers Committee was implicated in the scandal?
The topic is too hot to handle and hits too close to home.
Who can speak out for the innocent victims? In “Spotlight”, Hollywood is happy to pay homage to the reporters who uncovered sex abuse in the Catholic Church a number of years ago, but unwilling to acknowledge it in their midst.
In the past, I’ve attributed problems of child actors to their inability to handle fame and fortune and an acquired sense of entitlement. Now I wonder whether their spiraling out of control has far more nefarious roots.
I thank the Boston Globe for sponsoring the screening of this movie in its documentary series along with a Q&A session with the producer. I wish that others had the courage to take on this difficult topic and not bow to the powerful perpetrators, but who’s to take up the mantle? Newspapers are too financially strapped to take on such financially powerful interests so others such as documentary filmmakers or even comedians (like those who exposed Bill Cosby) need to raise our awareness and lead us to take action.
See the movie if you can and be outraged by the subject matter (child sexual abuse) and by the story behind the story (the unwillingness to deal with the “open secret”).