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A harrowing account of a 1970 ‘leadership seminar’ spotlights self-help’s dark side

The half-animated, half-live-action short documentary You’ve Never Been Completely Honest (2022) chronicles a disturbing story at the advent of the oft-overlapping self-help and multilevel-marketing industries. Rendered in gut-wrenching detail by the US director Joey Izzo, the film recalls a four-day ‘leadership seminar’ in 1970 in Palo Alto, California, for male employees of the the multilevel cosmetics marketing company Holiday Magic Inc. Izzo builds his intentionally unpleasant visuals around a never-before-heard recording of an interview with a man named Gene Church, who attended the seminar and later wrote about his experience. Through Church’s harrowing account, Izzo depicts how this seemingly benign-sounding work event descended into violence, depravity and nearly death – all without losing a single participant before its end. The film ultimately connects the story to the rise of the modern multibillion-dollar self-help industry, providing some unsettling insights into social psychology and group dynamics that are still relevant today.

Director: Joey Izzo

Producers: Andy Ruse, Jesy Odio

21 April 2022

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