CIFF47: PSQ March 22 – April 1, 2023 | Streams April 2 – April 9, 2023


Year: 1981
Country: Canada
Run Time: 109 minutes


Winner of the Grand Prize at the Taormina Film Festival, TICKET TO HEAVEN is a festival favorite. Canadian director Ralph L. Thomas has won awards for his docudrama series for the CBC for which he has co-written and produced films on public affairs. His television film "Tyler" won the International Critics Award at the 1978 Montreal World Film Festival. TICKET TO HEAVEN is Thomas' first theatrical feature film. It is a powerful debut.

The story is based on Josh Freed's "Moonwebs," a nonfictional account of his friend Benji Carroll's conversion from a bright teacher to a mindless Moonie. Carroll was rescued from the Unification Church cult by Freed, who wrote an award-winning newspaper series about the case. The film's authenticity is ensured by Freed and Carroll's close involvement with the adaptation.

The horror of brainwashing by cults is explored in this fictional screen account, presenting a timely warning to the vulnerable. Surprisingly, the most "normal" individual is apparently the most likely candidate for indoctrination. David (Nick Mancuso) goes to San Francisco to get over a broken romance and accepts an old friend's invitation to join him and two appealing young women for a country weekend. The people he meets at an isolated camp soon have David reduced to a zombie-like automaton selling flowers for "Father" and equating other lifestyles with Satan's evil. Aided by his best friend Larry, a stand-up comedian, David's family has no alternative but to kidnap him and hope that he can be deprogrammed. With the arrival of the deprogrammer, skillfully played by R.H. Thomson, the battle for David's mind begins.

"A real miracle. . . a gritty, emotionally shattering expose. . . the acting is exceptional." - Kathleen Carroll, New York Daily News

"With TICKET TO HEAVEN we have proof that only the cinema can show the total obliteration of an individual." - Marguerite Duras

Ralph L. Thomas and Anne Cameron (from a book by Josh Freed)

Vivienne Leebosh

Richard Leiterman

Ron Wisman

Principal Cast
Nick Mancuso, Saul Rubinek, Meg Foster, Kim Cattrall, R.H. Thomson, Jennifer Dale

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