Back in October 2015, Louis Theroux’s film, My Scientology Movie, was shown at the London Film Festival back in October 2015, where it received extensive praise from critics and audiences.
The Telegraph critic Tim Robey wrote:
It’s no hard-hitting exposé, but Louis Theroux’s attempt to get under Scientology’s skin is a giddy, Pythonesque delight.
Half the film consists of cameras pointing at other cameras, like an absurdist gunfight at dawn, with neither side willing to holster.
Given the critical acclaim it received in London and at other Film festivals across Europe and North America, the film should have been released in cinemas immediately, but the Scientologists raised objections, and the movie got bogged down in legal wranglings.
However, according to this report, it is now scheduled to be released in the UK October 7.
Irish audiences, though, won’t get to see it in cinemas because distributors there are frightened that it may be in breach of the country’s laws that protect religion.
The main stumbling block seems to be Ireland’s blasphemy laws and in particular the The Defamation Act of 2009. According to that piece of legislation, any “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” against any religion is an offence and carries a fine of €25,000.
The Act does allow for a defence of work that has “genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value”, which this documentary most likely will have. However it looks like there aren’t any distributors willing to take a chance on the film for fear that they could be found to be in breach of the legislation.
Alex Gibney’s 2015 Scientology documentary, Going Clear had similar problems and did not secure an Irish theatrical release.
Graham Spurling, Managing Director of Spurling Group Movies and Cinema (Ireland) has confirmed on Twitter that the film will not get an Irish release and has suggested that the blasphemy law may be to blame though he cannot speak for the distributors.