AUM: The Cult at the End of the World


AUM: The Cult at the End of the World

USA, 2023, 106’, Japanese, English
Directed by: Ben Braun, Chiaki Yanagimoto
Editor: Keita Idee
Photography (color): Yohei Tateishi, Tim Sutton
Based on the Book by: David E. Kaplan, Andrew Marshall
Music: Dan Braun, Charlie Braun
Producers: Dan Braun, Josh Braun, Rick Brookwell, Chiaki Yanagimoto

In 1984, Asahara Shoko unassumingly founded a Tokyo-based yoga school. Asahara rose in quiet prominence to become a charismatic-like guru, but innocuous in his “New Age” doctrines. But by 1995, the “innocuous” guru and his group had evolved into a doomsday cult called Aum Shinrikyo (“Supreme Truth”) and shocked the world with a sarin-gas attack in Tokyo’s crowded subway system, killing 13 people and injuring thousands more. How could this one-time yoga teacher have become a murderer who would order a mass chemical attack on civilians? In AUM: The Cult at the End of the World, directors Ben Braun and Chiaki Yanagimoto shine a bright light on a terrifying story that is little known today, even in Japan. The documentary details the increasing eccentricity and darkness of Asahara and members of Aum Shinrikyo, who, even before the Tokyo subway attack, had targeted and murdered people they considered their enemies.
Braun and Yanagimoto’s documentary traces the shocking descent of a spiritual group into a terroristic organization stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, which included Russian weaponry. The film includes a wealth of historical footage, as well as interviews with tenacious lawyers, journalists and courageous parents who were willing to take on the cult during a period when Japan’s police and mass media were ignoring the warning signs. Drawing from the book on Aum by acclaimed investigative journalist David E. Kaplan and Pulitzer Prize-winner Andrew Marshall (who both appear in the film) co-directors Ben Braun and Chiaki Yanagimoto cogently craft a thrilling documentary. 
In a time when extremism is on the rise across the globe and there is no shortage of groups hardening around often-bizarre beliefs, AUM: The Cult at the End of the World arrives as a potent reminder of just how dangerous unchecked fanaticism can be. 


Ben Braun 


Ben Braun is a New York City-raised and Los Angeles-based producer and director. He is a senior vice president at Submarine Deluxe, where he oversees the company’s development and production slate. AUM: The Cult at the End of the World  is his feature directorial debut.


2023 – AUM: The Cult at the End of the World


Chiaki Yanagimoto


Chiaki Yanagimoto is a Japanese-born, Los Angeles-based producer with award-winning features. After producing a series of genre films, she switched gears to documentaries, including Kampai! For the Love of Sake. As a unique, multicultural creative force, she began her career working for Ichise Taka and is currently developing international documentaries and scripted films.


2023 – AUM: The Cult at the End of the World

Anderson Le
Film Director: Ben BRAUN, Chiaki YANAGIMOTO
Year: 2023
Running time: 106'
Country: USA