Letter to the President of the Board of Governors regarding Oscar nomination

March 13, 2002

Mr. Frank Pierson
President, Board of Governors
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972


Dear Mr. Pierson:

This letter comes to register my concern over a certain documentary - "Artists and Orphans: A True Drama"- which I understand has been nominated for an Academy Award. I feel very strongly that this film is not a documentary at all, and that it should be withdrawn from consideration for this award.

The "artists" who are supposed to have made this film and accomplished this project are in fact members of a self-styled "esoteric school" who took on the orphanage as a school project at the behest of their teacher, one Sharon Gans. Gans regularly extracts large sums of money from her "students" for her teaching, which is more concerned with "growing your being," "overcoming your false personality" and "becoming Man Number Four" than it is with anything artistic.

The orphanage is in fact supported by regular monthly contributions from all the members of the school, who were also required to work long hours gathering clothing and other donations. There is of course nothing wrong with supporting an orphanage - and indeed this is to my knowledge the only really publicly spirited project in which Gans have ever engaged, but the contention that the project just happened because a bunch of artists on tour happened to meet some orphans is plainly false. The film is fiction.

From my point of view - and as you may have guessed, I am a former member of this "school"- the real problem is that Gans will use the kudos she receives for this film to help in her constant efforts to recruit new students. She has a very lavish lifestyle to support - including a large New York apartment, palatial upstate retreat and a ranch in Montana. Her "students" spend a great deal of their time recruiting new members, each of who will pay more than $300 a month for the privilege of listening to Gan's words of wisdom twice a week.

Sharon Gans is a genuine cult leader [sic], and it would be a shame for the Academy to lend its prestige to her machinations. The film is not a documentary. It is a promotional vehicle for a cult [sic]. Please see the two attached articles [e.g. "Strange School"] for more information about Gans and her history of "artistic" endeavor.


A Concerned Moviegoer

Note: This letter was sent through Federal Express and signed for upon receipt.


Copyright © 2002 Rick Ross.

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