Sphere Media to produce a documentary based on Monkey on a Stick true case

Explosive feature doc rolls into production based on bestselling exposé of Hare Krishna sect. Hollywood Suite is the broadcast partner for English speaking Canada and Abacus Media Rights to globally distribute the film outside of Canada.

14 DEC 2023

"Monkey on a Stick"

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Sphere Media has announced a feature documentary based on the New York Times bestselling book "Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness and the Hare Krishnas." The Canadian company has secured the rights to the chilling exposé of institutionalised corruption, co-authored by investigative journalists John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson. It has also obtained exclusive access to the participation of Nori Muster, a former Krishna insider turned whistleblower.

The film is being made with investment from Telefilm Canada’s Theatrical Documentary Program and assistance from the Roger’s Documentary Fund. Hollywood Suite is the broadcast partner for English speaking Canada. Abacus Media Rights has been awarded worldwide distribution rights to the film outside of Canada.

Director Jason Lapeyre ("I Declare War") originally brought the project to Sphere. The film explores Krishna Consciousness and exposes the movement's systemic, decades-long cover-up of criminality, moral decay and abuse of power. The documentary’s central subject, Nori Muster, was an ardent follower of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) until she discovered the organisation’s dark underbelly, which ranged from stockpiling weapons, dealing drugs, and fraudulent fund-raising to sexual assault, child abuse and ultimately murder. Muster left ISKCON in 1988 and subsequently published a book, "Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement", chronicling her experiences and ISKCON’s descent into corruption and chaos.

Lindsey Gruson and John Hubner said: “We’ve been looking for the right filmmaker for 35 years and we couldn’t be more pleased that Jason and Sphere will be telling this story. In countless hours of work in preproduction, they’ve demonstrated a profound commitment to making a documentary that accurately reflects the breadth and complexity of a movement that combined so much of the best and the worst of humanity."

Lapeyre said: “John and Lindsey’s gripping investigative journalism electrified me when I first read it and I immediately wanted to adapt their book. Their original article for Rolling Stone that lead to the book 'Dial Om for Murder' is over 30 years old now, but with the help of Sphere Media and Nori Muster, we can finally tell this timeless story about the duality of human nature and the danger of fanatical religious power with total authenticity. I’m very happy to partner with Sphere Media given their reputation for generating award-winning global entertainment, and unfortunately it seems like the world is forever in need of this kind of reminder about the tragic consequences of the abuse of power.”

Marlo Miazga, president of unscripted and documentaries at Sphere Media, added: “We’re immensely proud to have gained exclusive access to the people at the heart of an important story. The pioneering and immersive journalism at the heart of the story puts it way ahead of its time and represents a totally fresh take for a modern-day true crime story. Jason’s vision is exactly how the contributors want to see it told and we know the result will be one that will fascinate audiences around the world.”