Top 4 eye-catching documentaries about unforgettable cults

The difference between religion and cult can be a fine line. Some religions recognised in one part of the world are regarded as cults in another. When can a cult be called a religion? This question and others are explored in RTD’s cult documentaries, which explore the relationship between cult and religion, the power of the leaders, and the disciples who embrace them.

1. Siberian Apostles

A revelation to a former traffic cop from Krasnodar changed his life completely. He is now Vissarion, a so-called reincarnation of Christ, and the leader of an Orthodox Christian cult deep in Siberia. The film Siberian Apostles investigates the drawing power of Vissarion, with adherents from as far away as Belgium and Cuba. Former members talk about their indoctrination into the ecological Armageddon philosophy inspired by the cult.

2. The Immortals

The foothills of the Himalayas are home to a cult whose leader is known as God. Ziona Chana is the leader of a polygamous sect where his family numbers 163, of whom 38 are his wives. Followers believe that Ziona is immortal. The New Generation cult is put under the microscope in the RTD documentary The Immortals.

3. Enslaved by the Cult 

Waroks are revered members of Indonesian society, as they are meant to have supernatural powers. However, to maintain these powers, they must never touch a woman. Instead, they take on young boys as servants who perform favours for them. The authorities are concerned the youngsters are being exploited, despite the Waroks’ claims the boys are willing participants. The Enslaved by the Cult examines the dilemma of traditions versus modern society.

4. Dukhobors. Community of Faith

What is a religion without rituals and icons – maybe a cult? A breakaway group from the Orthodox Church have forsaken clergy, icons, and rituals for what they say is a more spiritual way of life. The Dukhobors, as they’re known, are a small group living in a village in Georgia, and the film Dukhobors. Community of Faith, examines their lifestyle and philosophy.