AUM: THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD
In 1984, eccentric guru Shoko Asahara founded a yoga school in Japan’s capital. Ten years later, the school has morphed into the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult which manufactured nerve gas and had its own secret weapons factories. The charismatic, half-blind Asahara proclaimed himself Buddha’s successor, and with him as a spiritual guide to his thousands of followers, the cult planned a 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway that left 14 dead and 6,000 injured. How did it come to this? Director duo Chiaki Yanagimoto and Ben Braun unravel the incredible story in great detail, and it’s a chillingly universal tale about radicalization and extremism – featuring a leader that managed to also become a popular guest on TV shows and even run for local office. The latter failed disastrously, and Asahara’s wounded vanity was ironically crucial to the cult’s apocalyptic turn. Rich with clips from the group’s psychedelic propaganda videos and old interviews with Asahara himself. This film is presented as part of the New American Perspectives program in partnership with the Vilcek Foundation. Director Chiaki Yanagimoto will be in attendance for a special post-screening Q&A.