“We didn’t imagine they were all over the world”: how Netflix investigated Raël and his movement – News Series

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Directed by Antoine Baldassari and written by Alexandre Ifi, “Raël: The Prophet of Extraterrestrials” traces the history of the sect which marked France since the 1980s. Meeting with the documentary team.

The documentary series Raël: The Prophet of Extraterrestrials retraces, with archive images and supporting testimonies, the birth and evolution of the Raëlian movement, a sect which affirms that human beings were created by an extraterrestrial race, the Elohims. Author Alexandre Ifi and director Antoine Baldassari immersed themselves in a fascinating investigation which lasted two years. Encounter.

AlloCiné: Raël made a big impact on the French media landscape in the 1980s. How was this documentary series project born?

Alexandre Ifi, author of the series: I work for KM Productions [dont Antoine Baldassari est le directeur général, ndlr] and when I saw the documentary Wild Wild Country on Netflix, I thought of Raël. I spoke to Antoine about it and we came to an understanding.

Antoine Baldassari, director of the series: Alexandre said to me: “Does this mean Raël to you?” and it spoke to me a lot. I remember him when I was a kid, he became a media character very quickly. Besides, his first television appearance with Jacques Chancel, I was 10 years old, and I was in front of the station.

We both have different connections to this movement. Alexandre was the story of the cloned baby and his controversial appearance on Christophe Dechavanne's show, so rather the eighties or nineties. I had this memory of him when he was young. The beginnings of his movement. At the end of the seventies, we started to believe in anything and everything.

Raël is fifty years of history. A chameleon that has adapted to all eras. There is the character, the movement, the disciples and straight away, I said to Alexandre: “If we go, we go all out.”

When and how did your work begin?

Alexandre Ifi : We got the green light from Netflix in July 2020 and we started working in September 2020. A team of three journalists was assembled. Among them, an editor-in-chief and a librarian. We then sought out testimonies. There are those who are at the head of the movement, but also those who left it and others who are still there. We had no idea they were all over the world. They had something very ordinary and at the same time extraordinary.

From the outset, I told them that I didn't believe in anything.

How did you come into contact with the Raelian movement?

Antoine Baldassari : I had to retake my baccalaureate four or five times in front of them. Initially, you receive an invitation by email and you are invited to Zoom. You don't know who you're talking to. There were four people, then five, then three. It took a month and a half, and suddenly, still on Zoom, I found myself face to face with Brigitte Boisselier, who is, to put it simply, the number two in the movement.

I visualized her, I identified her, but the others, I didn't know who they were. Brigitte Boisselier forwarded our request to Raël and there, Alexandre, then the teams, joined in the dance. We started to make contacts. We remained in a fairly close relationship, them and us. We had to establish a bond of trust.

From the outset, I told them that I didn't believe in anything. As simple as that. But what I found interesting was telling their story, which is crazy and spans half a century. From there, fears had to be overcome. But from the start, they knew that we were going to contact opponents because they are a controversial movement. For fifty years, they took the opposite view of the institutions, it was necessary to accept it. And they accepted.

Alexandre Ifi : In total, we spoke to more than 30 people in the movement. We chose the stories that seemed strong enough to build a narrative. There was no control on their part, there never was.

You found Raël. However, you weren't sure you had it…

Alexandre Ifi : We started working without the preconceived idea of ​​having it. The trust that was established between the movement and us paid off. They saw the filming taking place, we were transparent about our intentions. And in September 2021, a year after the project began, we got it.

We didnt imagine they were all over the world how
Netflix

How did your meeting go?

Antoine Baldassari : Because of Covid, the meeting took place by Zoom. He was on his island of Okinawa, Japan, but the country was inaccessible. He gave us four hours. The interviews were carried out in two stages. A team on site filmed the interview.

However, I shot the sequences on the beach remotely. He had a speaker phone in his pocket via WhatsApp and I had the screens on my computer.

And what did you think of him?

Alexandre Ifi : Raël is different from the others. I think he's a lot more under control than the others. He controls his speech, his image, his life and gives what he wants. He is not comparable to the disciples. Their lives have changed. He gives less.

Antoine Baldassari : He's the one who thinks he doesn't have to give. The others want to tell their story, but he says: “I am God, I am the brother of Jesus, so I am not going to tell you my story, you know it.” Brigitte Boisselier, who is also in control, a lot. it's me for me we talked about it with Alex, it's there for me, it's the two who are really in control. But the others, the others are completely first degree.

Brigitte Boisselier is devoted body and soul to Raël.

You were talking about Brigitte Boisselier. An entire episode, the third, is dedicated to him. What can you tell us about her?

Antoine Baldassari : We went to meet her in Mexico, first without a camera to spend a day with her. Then once filming started, two days of interviews weren't enough. We came back a third day for two or three more hours. He's a mysterious character. She seems very calm, very zen, she is in absolute control.

We knew that she had a very important role within the movement. She is the one who makes the connection, who has Raël's ear and we discover that she is body and soul devoted to him. She is his armed wing.

Alexandre Ifi : I think the series shows all its complexity. People have to make up their own minds. Everyone will have their own idea.

The documentary talks about a form of submission among women. Have you heard of sexual assault within the movement?

Antoine Baldassari : We must be very clear on this. Raël was never attacked or convicted. For Raël, he advocates the religion of pleasure and at a given moment in pleasure, we arrive at sex. What the Raëlians say is that it completely liberates them. Did Raël make it an object for his own interest? The public will have an idea. You can't tell Nadine Gary that she gave herself to the prophet against his will. Besides, we don't really know if she did it.

Alexandre Ifi : In any case, everyone gives their point of view. Brigitte McCann, the Quebec journalist, investigated and she has a point of view. Georges Fenech, too. Nothing is avoided. All the controversies surrounding the Raelian movement, whether it is pedophilia, whether it is sexual assault, it is mentioned because it is the story of their lives.

For McCann, the investigation changed his life. The journalist Georges Fenech, it's 50 years of struggle for him. After the interview, he told us, “You’re making me revisit why I struggled.” It's interesting that everyone, all points of view confront each other around a broad idea which is that of belief.

Comments collected by Thomas Desroches, in Paris, January 30, 2024.

Rael: The prophet of extraterrestrials is available on Netflix.

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