An intriguing subject let down by an aimless structure and lack of distanced perspective, “Children of God: Lost and Found” finds filmmaker Noah Thomson tracking down ex-members of the Christian religious movement notorious for revelations of widespread child sexual abuse. There’s a good documentary to be made about the group, which is still active around the globe (though now called the Family), but this rambling road-trip investigation isn’t it. Further editorial effort may be required before HBO-produced pic goes to broadcast.
Thomson is one of 11 children born to his American parents in Brazil, though like most Children of God youth he was raised primarily by “nannies” in “children houses.” David Berg, sect’s late founder, created an odd doctrine mixing apocalypticism, charitable works and the encouragement of liberal sexuality, including child-adult intimacy. Latter practices were officially banned in the late 1980s following numerous scandals and court cases. As Thomson and crew travel through Central and South America, they meet other ex-Children, many depressive and embittered. But these repetitious interviews provide limited insight; most compelling content is the early overview of org’s past via archival footage.