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‘Escaping Nxivm’ True Story: How Accurate Is the Lifetime Movie?

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Lifetime; Allison Mack Instagram.

On left, actress Sara Fletcher portraying Allison Mack in the Lifetime film; on right, Allison Mack in real life.

The Lifetime movie Escaping the Nxivm Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter has been released, but how accurate is the film’s portrayal of Catherine and India Oxenberg’s experience with Nxivm?

As it turns out, the film is a totally accurate depiction of Catherine’s experience trying to save her daughter from the apparent cult — but the scenes depicting India’s experience aren’t a direct depiction of her experience. In interviews leading up to the movie’s release, Catherine explained that the film drew heavily from her memoir, but used research about Nxivm as a whole to create India’s experience in the film. This is because India wasn’t ready to share her side of the story, Catherine said.

Here’s what you need to know:


Catherine Oxenberg Has Verified Her Character’s Thread in the Movie as True: But What About the Others?

Escaping the Nxivm Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter focuses on four characters in particular for the 90 minute storyline. It follows Catherine and India’s experience as a mother-daughter duo, and also portrays actress Allison Mack and Nxivm leader Keith Raniere’s involvement in the organization, as well.

In an interview with Variety, Catherine confirmed that her storyline in the movie is based directly off of her own memoir. However, she maintained that her daughter had no direct input on her character’s storyline in the film, and that that character’s storyline is not necessarily indicative of her daughter’s experience.

She said,

“I’m very careful to say that this is not her story. She has yet to tell her story. In my book I’m very careful not to trespass on her story at all, and so probably the hardest part for me was reading the parts of the script that tell her side of the story — because I’m very, very sensitive to my daughter having ownership over her perspective. But in order to tell this story in a visual medium, she had to be portrayed — and in moments that no mother wants to see her child, whether it’s the branding ceremony or scenes with Keith. But she did not participate in the telling of this story, and she will be telling the most accurate story from her perspective when the time is right.”

Catherine also clarified that she did offer some early notes on the film, but that she didn’t have a direct role in the creation of the movie. She said that she hoped there “would be freedom to tell the story that needed to be told.”

As for the characters of Mack and Raniere, neither of those individuals have confirmed or denied the veracity of the film’s portrayal of them.

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