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Cinema turns on Hollywood as child abuse film goes viral

Photos taken by Hollywood publicist Bob Villard, who once represented Leonardi DiCaprio, that Villard sold on eBay

The swathe of sexual assault allegations rocking Hollywood have taken a new turn, as a documentary, recently released online for free, claims to expose the film industry's culture of child abuse.

An Open Secret was originally released in 2014 and marketed with the tagline “the film Hollywood doesn't want you to see”. Despite an overwhelmingly positive reception, the film bombed. It was not offered television or streaming rights, and received no widespread distribution. Now, in response to the recent string of revelations about abuse in Hollywood, the film's producers have made the film available online for free.

“We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever,” funder Gabe Hoffman told the Guardian. “We knew a Harvey Weinstein moment was coming and when it would, that we’d release it for free.”

Since its online release in mid October the film has gone viral, garnering more than 3-million views on social media in its first two weeks. Originally the release was to last only nine days, but due to the response, the film's producers have since stretched the period into November.

An Open Secret describes the experience of children within Hollywood, following the stories of several child actors, each of whom was sexually abused by people in positions of power within the film industry. In a series of intimate interviews the characters relay how the nature of the entertainment business and a series of seemingly helpful and trustworthy characters exploited their trust and abused them.

Much of the film's narrative revolves Marc Collins-Rector, a Los-Angeles businessman and convicted sex offender. Collins-Rector founded an early online streaming service called Digital Entertainment Network, and was known for holding elaborate parties which hosted up-and-coming child stars. Collins-Rector was later found guilty on charges of coercing children, and luring minors across state lines for sexual purposes. He was sentenced to time served, and later fled the United States and renounced his citizenship.

Entrepreneur and convicted sex-offender Mark Collins-Rector as he appears in the film

Recent weeks have seen a torrent of abuse accusations arise, targeting figures like famed producer Harvey Weinstein, and writer-director James Toback. Originally much of the conversation was about Hollywood's treatment of women, but the conversation is beginning to shift inexorably towards its treatment of children.

Kevin Spacey was recently implicated when young actor Anthony Rapp told the press that Spacey assaulted him at a party when he was only 14 years old. Many other allegations have surfaced, with the BBC reporting that Spacey may have assaulted another boy at the age of 17.

At the same time former child actor Corey Feldman has launched a fundraising campaign to produce a film dissecting child sex abuse in Hollywood. “I believe that I can bring down, potentially, a paedophile ring that I have been aware of since I was a child,” said Feldman, in the video launching the fundraiser. Feldman has been outspoken on the topic for years, claiming that abuse is rife, and blaming it for the death of fellow actor Corey Haim in 2010.

Three years after its release An Open Secret still has not received a broad release, but has been pirated almost a million times across file-sharing networks. The producers of the film are pledged to donate all of its proceeds to the Courage to Act Foundation.

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