A documentary detailing child abuse in Hollywood, which vanished from view upon its release in 2015, has resurfaced and has been made available online.
An Open Secret described itself as “the film Hollywood doesn’t want you to see”. Made by by Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg, the film detailed how male managers, agents, publicists and directors have abused teenage boys aspiring to become actors.
Financer Gabe Hoffman released the film for free on Vimeo this month after several actors alleged that producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed them. After Weinstein, director James Toback, Tyler Grasham, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and Brett Ratner, have also been accused of sexual harassment.After reports of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, former child actor Corey Feldman has also launched a campaign to crowd-fund a biopic detailing his experiences of paedophilia in Hollywood.
Although the film was meant to be available for free only till Tuesday, Hoffman extended the window until Sunday because it now appears to have gone viral. “We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever,” Hoffman told The Guardian. “We knew a Harvey Weinstein moment was coming and when it would, that we’d release it for free. We’d love to be on Amazon and Netflix. We’re always ready to talk.”
An Open Secret chronicles a peadophile ring in Hollywood, beginning with a testimony by child actor Tod Bridges, who played Willis in the sitcom Different Strokes. He says, “It was unsettling because I had myself going through that… With that show, I was reliving that whole thing all over again.”
The film elaborates how managers and publicists would flatter the young boys hoping make headway in Hollywood, in some cases also earning the trust of their families, before sexually assaulting the boys. The parents were first alarmed when headshots of their sons appeared to have been sold to several parties without authorisation.
The managers would sometimes host parties at mansions, where they would allegedly push the boys drink alcohol and take drugs before trading them for sex. An Open Secret also chronicles how the child actors were made to step into a hot tub naked to “entice investors”. The boys were told that their acting contracts were conditional, and they would lose their jobs if they did not compromise themselves for the directors and investors.
Evan Henzi, who was 11 years old when his manager, Martin Weiss, started assaulting him, also gives his testimony in the documentary. “When the film was released, I witnessed a lot of support by people who actually saw the film,” Henzi told The Guardian. “What I did not witness was support from film festivals or Hollywood at large to promote the film. I do believe, though, that both some of the film-makers of An Open Secret and the Hollywood establishment are responsible for this.”
Although the release of the film was complicated due to internal disputes, Hoffman claimed that film festivals in Los Angeles, London and Toronto rescinded their invitations to the film without citing any reason.
“I do believe that the allegations against Harvey Weinstein have completely opened up the door to having a grand conversation about different experiences of sexual assault by people in the entertainment industry, and that will be really beneficial for a lot of people,” Henzi said. “It’s about time.”