True Story - Pre-Production 2017

A cautionary tale, chilling drama loosely based on real events, “Heaven’s Gate 39” centers on a self-destructive artist’s near-fatal entanglement with a doomsday cult, his survival only managed through the help of the deranged cult-leader’s disaffected daughter.

    • Year of production
    • 2017
    • Genres
    • True Story, Social issues, Drama
    • Countries
    • CANADA
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 120 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Nat DERWIN
    • Writer(s)
    • Nat DERWIN
    • Synopsis
    • Who needs aliens when you’ve got people?
      “Heaven’s Gate 39” is a disturbing window into the workings of a California cult whose increasingly demented leader, by way of persuasion, manipulation, and drugs, convinces several dozen “seekers” to join him – a temporarily earth-bound alien Messiah – on his spaceship to the stars, the first step being mass suicide. But it's not an Alien abduction, this is an abduction of the sole.
      It’s 1975, Oregon. A room-full of the curious are entranced by EARL [44], a charismatic UFO-enthusiast, who is gathering recruits to leave doomed planet Earth for a new life in the heavens with him, his partner FLORA [40], and several recruits already in tow. He claims to talk directly to God. Surreptitiously drugged into compliance, who is anyone to disagree?
      It’s 1996, Washington, DC, and ROBERT [32], a skilled but erratic artist, has pushed his MOTHER [54], a powerful US senator, to the brink with his alcoholic excesses. Her attempt to push him back into rehab instead pushes him into the spider-web of Earl [now 65], skilled at offering shelter to the psychologically wounded, and still trying to assemble his space-bound crew. Robert is initially more amused than threatened by the California cult’s bizarre rules and routines. But, in witnessing the punishments for rule-breaking, and the vulnerabilities of the other followers, he grows increasingly disillusioned. In bonding with the only other malcontent – LANDELL [33] – Robert stirs Earl’s paranoia. Earl tries to tame him with psychosis-inducing rituals, but Robert’s disruptiveness remains. With the nearing of the Hale-Bopp comet, on the tail of which Earl claims will be their spaceship, Earl’s anxiety increases. The more determined he is to keep control, the more unhinged and erratic he becomes. When his visiting daughter – MAGGIE [27] – also warms to Robert, Earl realizes the threat Robert poses to the group. While crop-circle landing-strips are cut into the compound’s fields in anticipation of the spaceship’s arrival, Earl neutralizes Robert with crippling hallucinogens, has Landell murdered, and prepares the followers for a mass suicide. Learning of the impending disaster, and realizing her attachment to Robert, Maggie rushes to the compound, arriving in time to save Robert [who managed to reject the vodka-Koolaid and conquers his alcohol addiction demons], but not the 39 others. The duo live to find happiness here on earth.
      Note: Though fictionalized, “Heaven’s Gate 39” is based on the activities of an actual doomsday cult that existed in the American South-West from 1975 until its self-destruction in 1997
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