Sundance: Director of Hollywood Cult Documentary Revealed

The Sundance Film Festival has unveiled Will Allen as director and producer of the religious cult documentary “Holy Hell,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The film was announced by the festival on Dec. 2 as part of the U.S. documentary competition lineup with the director remaining anonymous. It will premiere on Jan. 25.

Allen said Monday in an interview that his name was kept secret so that he could finish the film while minimizing the possibility of interference by the some of the subjects of the film, which centers on a California spiritual community that went by the name the Buddha Field. Allen served as the de facto  documentarian of the group.

“Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in 1980s West Hollywood,” the synopsis says. “Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart. Told through two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their story.”

The 100-minute film includes interviews with fellow ex-cult members. It’s Allen’s first feature.

Allen produced “Holy Hell” along with Tracey Harnish and Alexandra Johnes. Executive producers are Cheryl Sanders, Michael C. Donaldson and Julian Goldstein. Allen and Sean Jarrett are the editors; Polly Morgan and Allen are the cinematographers.

Andrew Herwitz of the Film Sales Company is representing domestic sales.

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