When you grow up as a child in the Church of Scientology, life isn’t exactly normal. There are wake-up calls, studying hours and strict rules. In Over the Rainbow, an interview-based documentary from director Jeffrey Peixoto, both current and former members the Church of Scientology open up about their experiences.
The movie explores the history of Scientology as well as the concepts of belief and religion in general, challenging faith and taking a deeper look into why people believe what they believe.
Filmed with subjects talking directly to the camera, the documentary is without outside voices: The subjects are the only ones speaking on life in the church. The viewer feels a connection with the movie's subjects, and the film is more conversational than informational. Subjects get personal, and the audience develops an authentic connection with them. Many open up about the fond memories they have of the church, while others are more negative. This gives the film a balance that helps provide a new perspective to the topic.
Despite the seriousness of the film, there are moments that lighten it up. Many transition scenes show just animals. One in particular that made the Thursday True/False audience chuckle was a little bird dashing away from ocean waves. Dogs, cats and a variety of farm animals also make appearances and provide space for audience members to digest the content.
Given that opening up about a much-maligned religion was likely nerve-wracking for the film's subjects, it is surprising how open they are. It is evident that Peixoto built a strong relationship with them while filming the movie. In the Q&A session following the film's Thursday screening, Peixoto talked about how it took almost a decade to build enough trust with the subjects to get them to participate in the project. He said he went into each interview with the intention of being respectful and tried to ask questions that were different from the stereotypical narrative. Without the connection Peixoto built through these tactics, the film wouldn’t have been able to succeed in the ways that it did.
Over the Rainbow is playing again on Friday at 7 p.m. (Big Ragtag), Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (Forrest Theater) and Sunday at 8:45 p.m (Showtime Theater)