AUM: The Cult at the End of the World

Institute History

  • 2023 Sundance Film Festival


In 1984, Shoko Asahara started a seemingly innocuous yoga school based in Tokyo. By 1995, the group had evolved into a doomsday cult called Aum Shinrikyo, meaning “Supreme Truth,” whose weapon of choice was sarin, an extraordinarily toxic nerve gas first invented by the Nazis during World War II. An unrelenting, in-depth look at the group, AUM: The Cult at the End of the World weaves a chilling narrative from Asahara’s claims of being a reincarnation of Buddha to the 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway system that left 14 dead and injured an estimated 6,000 additional civilians.

From the convenient disappearance of presumed adversaries to the acquisition of Russian weaponry, the warning signs are examined alongside the historical and socioeconomic context that ultimately led to the group being designated as a terrorist organization. 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), documentarians Ben Braun and Chiaki Yanagimoto make a powerful entrance with their directorial debut.

Screening Details

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