A hero’s journey tracing two brothers who started the one-hit wonder ’60s band PEOPLE!, the new full-length documentary, Brothers Broken, spotlights how two boomers compromised their acclaimed music careers to join Scientology, which in turn nearly destroyed their lives. Rock ‘n’ roll brothers Geoff Levin and Robbie Levin suffered almost 50 years of Scientology trauma. Geoff shunned his brother for 28 years because Robbie left scientology.
Brothers Broken chronicles the devastating effects the cult had on their band, their personal lives and their families. The film is a heartwarming yet shocking saga featuring their rise to fame with PEOPLE!‘s hit 1968 single “I Love You” (Capitol Records), then decades of brainwashing, and ultimate redemption. Brothers Broken is set for its “U.S. Premiere” at Cinequest Film Festival (LINK) on Sunday, August 20 (Hammer Theatre Center) and Saturday, August 26 (Mt. View ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen) in San Jose and Mountain View, California.
“It’s harder to get out of prison than to leave Scientology.” – Mike Rinder
The story starts by bringing us into the cult mentality and then follows the chronological journey of the brothers’ childhood in the ’50s in San Jose, Calif. and landing them in the middle of the ’60s Bay Area music revolution. Geoff and Robbie Levin led a charmed life growing up with then unknown musicians Jerry Garcia, Janice Joplin, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, and Grace Slick. In 1968, when the brothers joined Scientology, the magic stopped and the strange cultish odyssey began. In 1984, Geoff shunned his brother Robbie because he left the cult. This separation lasted for 28 years.
Separately, they led Forest Gump like lives. Geoff helped launch Apple‘s first Macintosh with his score and songs and founded the Billboard charting storytelling group Celestial Navigations with actor Geoffrey Lewis. Robbie invented the stationary bike phenomenon Spinning and co-founded the multi-million-dollar women’s clothing company EZ Sportswear, which became Melrose Clothing.
Decades later this rift culminated in Geoff’s breakdown and depression lasting three years while Robbie stood by helpless to do anything for his brother because of Scientology disconnection. This unique story that includes L. Ron Hubbard‘s church is different than all the other movies and series about the organization. It’s a rock doc meets a cult horror show and a personal journey that continues to evolve as the brothers reconnect to band members, family, and friends. The universal theme of love and kindred spirits is woven throughout the film.
Brothers Broken is a film about redemption. Geoff Levin’s 46-year dedication to the cult since 1968 made him an insider working directly with L. Ron Hubbard, many of Scientology’s top executives, performing at over 600 Scientology events and in close contact with the cult’s celebrities. Geoff feels responsible for helping to bring thousands of unsuspecting people into Hubbard’s fraudulent church. By telling this story, the brothers hope to expose the toxic practices Scientology has of breaking up families and separating friends.
Cast and Crew Bios:
Geoff Levin — Director
Geoff Levin grew up in San Jose and started his musical life in 1962 at 16. He embraced the burgeoning folk scene in the SF Bay Area and across the country. In 1964, he formed a rock band called PEOPLE! In 1975, he changed careers and started composing music for film and multimedia out of his own studio while working with Apple, Microsoft, JPL and other large corporations. In 1984, he scored his first feature film, Heart, starring Steve Buscemi and Brad Davis. Over the years, Geoff has become a multi-faceted film and television composer, orchestrator, and songwriter who has scored over 50 full-length films for cable or theatrical release. He has also contributed music to another 30 features.
Geoff further scored and helped produce the Academy Award-nominated animated short “The Janitor” based on the story by his storytelling group Celestial Navigations with Geoffrey Lewis (1995). In 1984, Geoff and Geoffrey Lewis recorded their first album as the group Celestial Navigations. The album charted on Billboard. Subsequently, they released other charting albums.
His TV credits include additional music for Bloodline, Game Of Thrones, Sopranos, Chicago Fire, SNL, Friends, Archer, CSI New York, The Blacklist, The Good Wife, Parks And Recreation, The Office, Sopranos, Catfish, Family Guy, Friday Night Lights, Weeds, The View, and more. And recently, he produced the latest PEOPLE! album, The Return of PEOPLE! Geoff’s first experience as a producer/director was for the 2020 award-winning short, THE STORY OF SPINNING.
Robert Levin — Executive Producer
Robert Levin is an entrepreneur and architectural designer who grew up in the Bay Area. He helped create the band PEOPLE! that had a pop hit on Capitol Records in 1968. In 1971, he formed his own band Rockin’ Horse, which signed with RCA records under the management of Nick Grillo (Beach Boys’ manager). While performing with Rockin’ Horse, Robbie met an entrepreneurial t-shirt manufacturer Richard Hirsch. Together, they formed EZ Sportswear and it fast became a multi-million-dollar clothing line. The company morphed into Melrose Clothing and it was sold in 1986 to Kellwood Company (a Fortune 500 company). For several years, he performed in Rick Springfield’s band. Also, in 1987, he developed the fitness regimen Spinning. An award-winning film, The Story Of Spinning, documenting his conception of Spinning was released in 2020.
In 1994, he purchased a historic 240-acre ranch on the banks of the Colorado River and transformed it into the Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa. The resort opened for business in spring 2000. Within a year, it was the only “4 Diamond” Resort in Southern Utah and went on to win many domestic and international awards. In 2007, Robbie was inducted into the San Jose Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with his band PEOPLE!
Leslie Bates — Producer
Leslie Bates has over 30 years in the entertainment industry in both live and film/commercial production. After earning a JD from Lincoln Law School of Sacramento, she turned to film, receiving her MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. She has since written and produced PSA’s, narrative shorts, documentary/educational content, and features including Broken Angel, The Life of Cesar Chavez, and Acts of Desperation.
Lily Richards — Co-Director
Lily Richards is a Los Angeles based actor, writer, and director. She is the writer, director, and star of the hit LGBTQ web series, Twenty. Twenty has been nominated for a Streamy Award for “Best Indie Series,” has over 64,000 subscribers and over 12 million views with mentions in Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter, Pride, Into, and Variety. In 2020, the show was acquired by Revry and Twenty is now available to stream on both Revry and Youtube.
She is currently on the festival circuit with the award-winning short film Welcome, Megan, which she wrote, directed, and starred in. She won “Best Director” at the Austin Comedy Film Festival for the film, won “Best Actress” at Bridgeport Film Festival, and “Best Director” at the Portland Comedy Film Festival. Welcome, Megan also won The Kraken Award at No Coast Film Festival, and “Best Dark Comedy Short” at the Independent Short Awards. Welcome, Megan was nominated for “Best Short Film” at Chelsea Film Festival and AFMX. It has been an official selection at over 20 festivals including Uppsala, an Oscar, BAFTA, and European Film Award Qualifier. She is a proud alumni of Emerson College.
Tim Janssens — Composer
Tim Janssens is a number one Billboard composer and has produced songs for major artists like Ne-Yo, Flo Rida and Nelly Furtado. Many of his productions for artist the Sophia May have entered the USA Billboard charts, with “I Can’t Help Myself” staying in the charts for 29 weeks. He has also won several awards for his soundtracks for feature movies and documentaries. In 2022, he won the Sonuscore “Composer Of The Year” award.
Toi Juan Shannon — Editor
Toi Juan trained and graduated at Video Symphony. He also has a BA degree from the University of LaVerne. During his film career, editing has been his main staple. His credits include Assistant Editor on Speed Racer and The Watchman, Camera Operator on the feature, Jack The Reaper, Online Editor and Colorist for the award-winning Amexica and Little Miss Dewie, and Post Production Supervisor and Producer for Kid Justice, Sistaah Friends and Spirits.
Toi Juan also works closely with the LA WebFest. His feature projects are Acts of Desperation, the documentary What Do You Have to Lose? and BET’s, Beauty and The Baller. During Toi Juan’s career, he has been an instructor at colleges such USC, UCLA, New York Film Academy, and Video Symphony.
Nathan Illsley — Writer
Nathan Illsley is a screenwriter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He is best known for his debut feature film, Acts of Desperation, starring Paul Sorvino, Jason Gedrick, Kira Reed Lorsch, Vince Lozano and Treva Etienne. The film has won numerous awards during the festival circuit, including the “Best Feature Audience Award” at the Riverside International Film Festival, “Best Ensemble Cast” at the Grove Film Festival and Culver City Film Festival, and the “Award of Excellence” from the Accolade Global Film Competition.
Bruce Chianese — Mixer/Sound Designer
Recognized as an expert in the industry, Bruce has received numerous accolades and awards, including the prestigious “Cine Golden Eagle” for his score for the motion picture, My Neighborhood, as well as an Emmy nomination for Disney’s Spaceship Earth and an Oscar nomination for his contributions to the short, The Janitor. His music for Qwerty was voted the “Best Original Movie Score” for 2012 at the Nashville International Film Festival. Also, in 2012 his film score for You Can’t Kill Stephen King debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Auburn Film Festival. His score for Power of Choice won a Telly Award. Other film credits include such successful independent features as Mobius, Lonesome Jim, Hot Boyz, Darkwolf, Epic Movie and the documentary, The Valley of the T-Rex.