“‘Holy Hell’ is relentless, haunting and unforgettable,” Leto said. “This unflinching documentary expose takes us on a beautiful and bizarre journey in search of faith, love and family, but ends up showing us how the business of spirituality, power and corruption are often religion’s ménage à trois.”
It was announced in early December that the film would play in the U.S. documentary competition lineup, with the director remaining anonymous. The helmer was revealed the next month as Will Allen, who said in an interview that his name was kept secret so that he could finish the project while minimizing the possibility of interference by the some of the subjects of the film. The movie marks Allen’s first feature documentary and centers on a California spiritual community that went by the name the Buddha Field.
Allen served as the de facto documentarian of the group. The 100-minute pic includes interviews with fellow ex-cult members.
Allen produced “Holy Hell” along with Tracey Harnish and Alexandra Johnes. Leto joins executive producers Cheryl Sanders, fair use attorney Michael C. Donaldson and Julian Goldstein.
“Jared saw an early cut of the film, which I shot over 22 years as the unofficial videographer of the group, and responded to the intimacy of our story,” said Allen. “It’s an honor to be able to work with an artist that I respect so much, especially for my first feature-length documentary. I’ve admired his work and career since ‘Prefontaine.'”
Allen is working with Andrew Herwitz of The Film Sales Company for domestic and international sales, and with John Sloss of Cinetic Media for feature remake rights.