An Open Secret is a documentary that tried to lift the lid on the sex/child-abuse scandals occurring in Hollywood years before Harvey Weinstein got his comeuppance.
Predictably, the film got buried when it was released in 2015, receiving absolutely no television distribution or media coverage. This was despite being directed by Oscar-nominated Amy Berg (nominated for her documentary Deliver Us from Evil, about sex abuse in the Catholic church. Hollywood is okay with sex-abuse revelations – as long as it gets to look good and maintain its own image of course).
“We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever,” said Gabe Hoffman who helped finance the film.
Hoffman would release the film free of charge on Vimeo, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal – the film would go on to obtain millions of views that it deserved, yet tellingly it still did not receive a distribution deal.
“There was nowhere to see it,” said Lorien Haynes, the film’s writer. “I don’t think it impacted at all. Nobody saw it. We released a film that didn’t [seem to] exist.”
Berg had uncovered evidence of a pedophile ring that preyed on teens and preteens who were trying to break into the movie industry.
Berg would go on to be sued by the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG–AFTRA) which wanted her to delete all mention of the SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee.
Michael Harrah, co-founder of the SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee, resigned soon after being interviewed by Berg. It was revealed in the documentary that Joey Coleman, a former child actor and client of Harrah, had taped a phone conversation with him that proved that Harrah had done some despicable things.
“I didn’t like when you tried to have me sleep in your bed and touch me and everything,” Coleman said to Harrah on the phone. “I hated that.”
“Yeah, and that was something unwanted I shouldn’t have done,” Harrah replied, unaware that he was being taped. “And there’s no way you can undo that. But it certainly is something I shouldn’t have done.”
Another victim, Evan Henzi, was 11 years old when his manager Martin Weiss started sexually assaulting him. Weiss faced eight felony counts of molesting a young artist and pleaded no contest to two counts of “committing lewd acts on a child under the age of 14” in 2012 – for which he was only sentenced to a year in jail and 5 years probation but was freed immediately for time served.
“I shared my story in An Open Secret so other victims who have been molested for years just like me can heal,” Henzi said. Interestingly, Henzi seemed to believe that even some of the film-makers of the documentary had some role to play in the initial failure of the film:
“When the film was released, I witnessed a lot of support from people who actually saw the film. 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.”
“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. It is about time.”