No stranger when it comes to controversy, Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg’s has had her fair share of it with her new film An Open Secret, which began its theatrical run in New York last weekend.
An Open Secret explores the seedy, perverse underbelly of exploited children in Hollywood, particularly young males. It’s a documentary that, just like Berg’s previous Deliver Us From Evil, reaches the darkest depths of depraved and evil human behavior and calls for action. Parents of the Hollywood victims are interviewed, locations of the homes where molestations by their managers/colleagues transpired are shot, and even the use of audio and home video footage is intercut for major emphasis. But what really matters, is the voice of the victims that Berg has interviewed. These are scars that have been hidden for so long and their voices are now heard.
It’s still happening as we speak; child actors are being taken advantage of by powerful figures in Hollywood and child predators are still working in the entertainment industry. Take Martin Weiss, a subject in the film and a former manager who grew so close to the families of his victims. He was a man who promised landing roles for his clients and grew so close to them that an inner web of other convicted sex offenders, or non-convicted, were introduced to the children as well. All of these men shared an infatuation with their pubescent clients and even partied with them, offering Quaaludes, ecstasy, among other drugs that any thirteen year old shouldn’t be doing.
While Martin Weiss wasn’t interviewed for this documentary, his victims were, and their stories are exposed in such a slow-paced manner you can’t help but watch and listen, as painful as it is, until the story hits present-day. Audiences have the chance to witness the psychological torment that they’ll have to cope with for the rest of their lives. These victims recognize the fact that they will never be able to land a job again in Hollywood (that seems to be the status quo), but feel that by voicing the accounts of such abuse at a young age needs to be known by the masses. Berg recognizes these atrocities and exposes the grotesque reality within Hollywood’s insulated world. It’s heart-wrenching, unbelievably candid, and a realistic portrayal of a competitive industry that has a seedy underbelly. It’s urgent.
This riveting documentary is more than important—it’s essential. It matters more than ever, as young people in the modern age want to become famous, pursue careers in Hollywood (where their families move along with them), and the exposure has become an entirely new platform.