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Documentary ‘An Open Secret’ exposes widespread paedophilia in Hollywood

Amy Berg’s film faded out upon its release in 2015 but has recently racked up three million views online.

A documentary detailing child abuse in Hollywood, which vanished from view upon its release in 2015, has resurfaced and has been made available online.

An Open Secret described itself as “the film Hollywood doesn’t want you to see”. Made by by Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg, the film detailed how male managers, agents, publicists and directors have abused teenage boys aspiring to become actors.

Financer Gabe Hoffman released the film for free on Vimeo this month after several actors alleged that producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed them. After Weinstein, director James Toback, Tyler Grasham, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and Brett Ratner, have also been accused of sexual harassment.After reports of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, former child actor Corey Feldman has also launched a campaign to crowd-fund a biopic detailing his experiences of paedophilia in Hollywood.

Although the film was meant to be available for free only till Tuesday, Hoffman extended the window until Sunday because it now appears to have gone viral. “We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever,” Hoffman told The Guardian. “We knew a Harvey Weinstein moment was coming and when it would, that we’d release it for free. We’d love to be on Amazon and Netflix. We’re always ready to talk.”

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An Open Secret.

An Open Secret chronicles a peadophile ring in Hollywood, beginning with a testimony by child actor Tod Bridges, who played Willis in the sitcom Different Strokes. He says, “It was unsettling because I had myself going through that… With that show, I was reliving that whole thing all over again.”

The film elaborates how managers and publicists would flatter the young boys hoping make headway in Hollywood, in some cases also earning the trust of their families, before sexually assaulting the boys. The parents were first alarmed when headshots of their sons appeared to have been sold to several parties without authorisation.

The managers would sometimes host parties at mansions, where they would allegedly push the boys drink alcohol and take drugs before trading them for sex. An Open Secret also chronicles how the child actors were made to step into a hot tub naked to “entice investors”. The boys were told that their acting contracts were conditional, and they would lose their jobs if they did not compromise themselves for the directors and investors.

Evan Henzi, who was 11 years old when his manager, Martin Weiss, started assaulting him, also gives his testimony in the documentary. “When the film was released, I witnessed a lot of support by people who actually saw the film,” Henzi told The Guardian. “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.”

Although the release of the film was complicated due to internal disputes, Hoffman claimed that film festivals in Los Angeles, London and Toronto rescinded their invitations to the film without citing any reason.

“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,” Henzi said. “It’s about time.”

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.