‘The Dream of What It Was’: ‘Born in Synanon’ Probes a Cult’s Legacy Through a Child’s Eye

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From books and docuseries to podcasts and big-screen thrillers, true-crime tales are everywhere. Much of it is thinly researched retreads of well-worn cases and subjects that feel exploitative in the end.

“Born in Synanon” is none of those things. The four-part documentary, directed by Geeta Gandbhir, that premiered in December on Paramount+, is a richly detailed look at the evolution of the California-based cult from the 1960s through its demise in the early 1990s. The storytelling is enhanced by a wealth of high-quality film footage of the inner workings of a group that began as a sober-living program but descended into the madness of a cult. And the perspective could not be more intimate. “Born in Synanon” follows Cassidy Arkin, whose parents were prominent members when she was born in 1974, as she tries to make sense of the community that surrounded her for the first six years of her life. It’s based in part on the 2015 memoir “Little Brown Girl” that Arkin wrote with her mother, Sandra Rogers-Hare.

Content retrieved from: https://variety.com/2024/biz/news/synanon-born-cassidy-arkin-geeta-gandbhir-1235896319/.

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