An Open Secret
|An Open Secret|
|Directed by||Amy J. Berg|
An Open Secret is an American documentary film directed by Amy J. Berg exposing child sexual abuse in the film industry in California. The film features interviews with victimized performers, who were targeted when they were young boys, as well as industry figures, the predators themselves, and journalists.
Berg decided to make the documentary after she was approached by Matthew Valentinas in 2011. Valentinas and Gabe Hoffman wanted to make a film about victims of sexual exploitation. Valentinas said, "We chose Amy because we didn't want it to be exploitative or tabloid. We wanted it to be empowering for the victims." Matthew Valentinas, an entertainment lawyer, came up with the idea when he heard Corey Feldman talking about his sexual abuse as a child actor in a TV interview. Berg's 2006 film Deliver Us from Evil, a documentary on systemic child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, had been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The documentary follows the stories of five former child actors who were sexually abused by multiple predators. Much of the film focuses on Marc Collins-Rector, subsequently convicted of child sexual abuse, who co-owned and operated Digital Entertainment Network. DEN produced brief online videos during the early days of the Internet, and was noted for wild parties featuring underaged boys at Collins-Rector's house.
The film makes multiple references to director Bryan Singer, who was alleged to be at some of the DEN parties, but does not detail allegations against him. A lawsuit alleging that Singer sexually abused Michael Egan as an underage boy was withdrawn during the production of the film. As a result, the film only details allegations made by persons willing to appear on camera.
Among the persons interviewed is Vanity Fair journalist John Connolly, who states that an article on pedophilia in Hollywood was dropped at the last minute by Details magazine.
An Open Secret has an approval rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on reviews from 17 critics, but without a “consensus” due to the small number of reviews. It has a score of 66 out of 100 on Metacritic; it has a weighted average score of 66 based on reviews from nine critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film offered a "sober look at accusations that lend themselves to sensationalism."
The Los Angeles Times describes the movie as "not the hard-hitting exposé that it aims to be" but as "an unsettling look at pedophilia in Hollywood".
The New York Times wrote that the "topic deserves a tenacious call for answers" and hoped for "further aggressive reporting" which they missed in the movie, when Berg linked Martin Weiss "to a string of other men" but only presenting "a secretly taped conversation and some menacing music".
Flavorwire claims that "the film feels less shocking as a cult-of-celebrity document and more just quietly horrifying, as it details the trauma and the abuse of power inflicted on young men with stars in their eyes."
Indiewire described the documentary as "an incisive and utterly unflinching look at a subject too rarely scrutinized."
On July 30, 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that the movie producers had accused Amy Berg of not supporting the documentary. Producers Gabe Hoffman and Matthew Valentinas filed an arbitration against the movie's director Amy Berg for allegedly delivering the movie late and incomplete, and failing to promote it. Hoffman's Esponda Productions claimed that Berg failed to get the proper release forms from some of the interviewees and that this error almost caused the film to miss its premiere at Doc NYC.
Another controversy arose when HuffPost reported that the movie's subjects Evan Henzi and Chris Turcotte had called the documentary "unfair" and "dishonest". On another Huffington Post article, Turcotte explained that Amy Berg omitted portions of his interview from the movie, detailing that Collins-Rector had sex at the estate with underage teens in private but not as part of sex parties.
The movie controversy appears to be substantiated in Michael Egan's teen sex abuse claims against Bryan Singer and three others. "His cases against the four men began to collapse in May 2014, just a month after they were filed, when his prior contradictory statements came to light". Egan's attorneys Jeff Herman and Mark Gallagher later settled with Garth Ancier and David Neuman and issued an apology that called the allegations "untrue" and paid a seven-figure settlement to both. Gary Goddard and Bryan Singer didn't receive an apology because they didn't file countersuits like Ancier and Neuman, although "Egan’s cases against all four were framed in virtually identical complaints and centered on the same purported events, timeframes, locations and supposed trip(s) to Hawaii".
The documentary previously named all four men in connection with the 2014 suits was edited to remove those references.
An Open Secret initially had a limited theatrical release, but producers were encouraged about its commercial potential because a pirated version was viewed 900,000 times. However, it received no television deal or video-on-demand distribution. According to Gabe Hoffman, who financed the film: "We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever." On October 12, 2017, Hoffman and Valentinas released the film for nine days on Vimeo "to commemorate serial predator Harvey Weinstein finally being exposed." It went viral, and free viewing was then extended for a longer period due to the interest shown in the film, with over 3 million viewings garnered on various social media platforms in the first two weeks.
- Witheridge, Annette (November 15, 2014). "Bombshell documentary about Hollywood pedophile ring preying on child actors that's been linked to X-Men director Bryan Singer premieres in New York". Daily Mail.
- Setoodeh, Ramin (April 18, 2014). "Bryan Singer Allegations Part of Upcoming Sex Abuse Documentary". Variety.
- DeFore, John (November 14, 2014). "'An Open Secret': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Kilday, Gregg (November 12, 2014). "Hollywood Sex Abuse Film Revealed: Explosive Claims, New Figures Named (Exclusive)". Retrieved February 10, 2015.
- Millea, Holly (November 13, 2014). "Amy Berg Uncovered Hollywood's Worst Kept Sex Secret". Elle. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- Bond, Paul (October 13, 2017). "Hollywood Sex Abuse Film 'An Open Secret' Released Online". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- "An Open Secret Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
- DeFore, John (November 14, 2014). "'An Open Secret': Film Review Amy Berg turns from molestation in the priesthood to Hollywood sex abuse". Hollywoodreporter. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- Linden, Sheri (July 16, 2015). "Amy Berg's 'An Open Secret' is flawed but unsettling nonetheless". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Jaworowski, Ken (June 11, 2015). "Review: 'An Open Secret' Spotlights Child Sexual Abuse in Hollywood". The New York Times. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Donnelly, Elisabeth (November 17, 2014). "'An Open Secret' Examines Hollywood Sex Abuse Allegations, Beyond the Tabloid Sensationalism". Flavorwire. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- Cwik, Greg (November 15, 2014). "DOC NYC Review: Amy Berg's 'An Open Secret' Is a Devastating Exposé of Hollywood's Sexual Abuse Problem". Indiewire. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
- Robb, David (July 30, 2015). "'An Open Secret' Producers Accuse Amy Berg of Not Supporting Documentary". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Kilday, Gregg (November 12, 2014). "Hollywood Sex Abuse Film Revealed: Explosive Claims, New Figures Named (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Lee, Benjamin (August 18, 2015). "Producer of abuse documentary An Open Secret taking director to court". The Guardian. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
- Handel, Jonathan (November 11, 2016). "Producers of Teen Sex Abuse Documentary 'An Open Secret' Threaten to Sue Molestation Victim Over Criticism of Film (Exclusive)". HuffPost. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Handel, Jonathan (December 6, 2017). "Hollywood Sex Abuse Doc Draws Fire for Sex Party Claims and Reliance on 'Proven Liar'". HuffPost. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Johnson, Ted (December 8, 2015). "Michael Egan, Bryan Singer's Accuser, Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Investment Fraud". Variety. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- Handel, Jonathan (September 2, 2015). "Hollywood Sex Abuse Accuser Invokes Fifth Amendment 400 Times in Deposition". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- Handel, Jonathan (July 6, 2015). "Hollywood Sex Abuse Accuser's Lawyers Admit Filing "Untrue and Provably False" Claims". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Carroll, Rory (November 1, 2017). "Child abuse documentary Hollywood 'didn't want you to see' goes viral". The Guardian.
- An Open Secret, Official PG-13 version (uploaded to Vimeo on 2015Oct14)