Documentary series on NXIVM sex cult in works

Television network HBO is producing a documentary series on NXIVM, the purported self-help organisation that is facing charges of sex trafficking and racketeering.

Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer are behind the documentary.

It will follow a range of people who joined NXIVM, and as per HBO, "take a deep, nuanced look at experiences of its members, spotlighting their universal desire for personal growth", reports hollywoodreporter.com

One of its prominent members, former "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, pleaded guilty on April 8 to charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labour. The group's leader, Keith Raniere, is scheduled to go to trial on the charges.

Nancy Salzman, a co-founder of the organisation, has also pleaded guilty to federal charges.

The series will also examine the "emotional toll" of the legal case and alleged practices of NXIVM -- including women who were allegedly branded with Raniere's initials and forced to have sex with him -- on people involved with the group.

Noujaim has a personal connection to the organisation, having taken an introductory "Executive Success Program" workshop conducted by the group in 2010.

That experience, HBO says, gives her "an illuminating perspective to the media spectacle surrounding this polarised community as it faces federal investigation".

HBO is no stranger to controversial subject matter in its documentaries. The premium cable outlet recently aired "Leaving Neverland", documenting child sexual abuse allegations against late pop icon Michael Jackson by two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.

The two-part film drew the third-largest audience for an HBO documentary in the last decade.