CPH:DOX review of ‘Deprogrammed’

Worth an intervention in your schedule for

‘Deprogrammed’ is an investigative documentary that looks into not only the phenomenon of so-called cults that emerged in the US during the 1960s and 70s, such as the Moonies, but also the methods employed by those who perform ‘interventions’ as a means of extracting family or loved ones from such communities.

Meet the deprogammer
One of the first names that pops up in relation to this practice is Ted Patrick. A self appointed ‘deprogrammer’ who was later celebrated and endorsed by Ronald Regan.

As its ‘in’, the film focuses on one of Patrick’s final cases. A young man named Matthew was abducted by Patrick in the early 1990s at the behest of his parents. He was a follower of the Church Of Satan and Patrick meant to break the boy’s connection to the cult. Matthew is also the brother of Mia Donovan, the director of the film.

More brotherly time needed
‘Deprogrammed’ is extremely well balanced, presenting Patrick as he is seen by some: a bit nutty with methods as questionable as the cult leaders whose work he seeks to undo. While he is also clearly considered to have been a necessary force in realigning these young people’s wayward lives.

The film is conventional but well constructed. By far the most engaging and resonant sections are the bookends that deal with the director’s brother, Matthew, who seems like he could carry a film by himself.

So, while the film gives us a comprehensive look at the titular practice of ‘Deprogramming’, considering the access Donavan has to her subject, it’s a shame we get to spend so little time in this more intimate and personal space.

The next screening is on Monday November 16 at 21:30 at Grand Teatret.