Depending on your point of view, The Workshop, a documentary that played at this year's Tribeca fest, is either comedy or horror. A liberal version of Jesus Camp, the film introduces us to a radical California cult where sexual libertines, alien abductee-types and other weirdos aggregate to listen to the ludicrous preachings of a guru called Paul Lowe, who, with his British accent, toothpick limbs and long white hair, looks like the last surviving roadie for Humble Pie. His loosey-goosey seminars, conducted at a woodsy retreat somewhere off the path, are pure credit card spiritualism, with tubby boomers and glassy-eyed seekers of enlightenment all sitting enraptured while Lowe dispenses fortune cookie-deep aphorisms like "nothing ever happens in the future -- it's all now." Those who attend are also encouraged to get nude at will and offer up their partners for sex swapping, which is obviously the major draw for both them and us the viewers. In fact, you could argue that The Workshop is little more than an episode of HBO's Real Sex expanded to feature length.
The film was directed and is narrated by Jamie Morgan, whose objectivity is questionable at best, since he was actually a devotee of Lowe. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the cult -- the extent to which it is a haven not only for sexual exhibitionists but also for UFO crackpots -- is an aspect which Morgan does touch on in the film, but in a very quick, perfunctory, 'nothing to see here' kind of way that makes you wonder if alien hoodoo isn't in fact a primary feature of Lowe's teachings, and is being brushed under the rug. Most of the running time is devoted to exploring and explaining the sexual underpinnings of the cult -- how getting naked and screwing everyone you meet can make you a better person and more in touch with the universe. Those who follow Lowe's line are told throughout the film, for example, that if they get naked they will rid themselves of shame, and if they let someone else sleep with their significant other, they will rid themselves of jealousy and possessiveness and so on.