Gloriavale docuseries to bring to light harrowing tales of escape

Gloriavale docuseries to bring to light harrowing tales of escape

| 1News Reporters |

The isolated West Coast commune of Gloriavale will again come into sharp focus as former members’ desperate attempts to escape air on TVNZ later this month.

Across three nights, Escaping Utopia will reveal the careful planning involved in clandestine escapes from the fundamentalist Christian sect – with unprecedented access to its inner workings, the unravelling of its leadership, and the pursuit of justice by the Gloriavale Leavers’ Trust.

The cult has been a subject of horror and fascination in recent years as allegations of abuse, human rights violations and fraud played out in court. The Employment Court last year ruled the Overseeing Shepherd at Gloriavale was the employer of six women fighting for workers’ rights, potentially paving the way for financial compensation.

While the South Island sect has been the subject of multiple documentaries, Escaping Utopia brings to light shocking new information as current and former members of the community seek answers to some of the most crucial questions in Gloriavale’s dark history.

It was directed by Natalie Malcon and Justin Pemberton, with Philippa Rennie serving as executive producer.

The three-part series is produced by Warner Bros. International Television Production New Zealand in association with the New Zealand Government’s Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund and made with the support of NZ on Air.

The docuseries will be distributed internationally by film and TV studio Fifth Season.

Escaping Utopia premieres on Sunday, March 24 at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1 and TVNZ+, and continues Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26.