Notes from other feature films from the 2014 LDS Film Festival
Written / Directed by Marco Lui
Visionary Italian director Marco Lui (The Book of Life, Dr Smith & The Fantastic Castle) returns with Cripta, a new feature film that’s also available on Lui’s website for download. Cripta — Italian for ‘encrypt’ — is a tale of six students who work together online to solve a ‘mystery’ related to their missing archaeology professor.
As noted in the festival preview, this year’s film festival featured a session devoted to Gay/Lesbian/Transgender issues. Kudos for Christian Vuissa and other LDSFF leaders for allowing this type of session to facilitate honest and open discussion of “sensitive” issues that are obviously a hot topic in the Church today.
This session contained five individual film segments from 9 to 17 minutes on a range of topics, sponsored and led by members of Mormons Building Bridges, a support group for LGBT Mormons. While it was convenient to have them all presented on a big screen at once, all of the short films are available online for other interested viewers without needing to attend the festival.
Some notes from Day 1 and 2 at the 2014 LDS Film Festival:
Wayward: The Prodigal Son
Robert McMillan has a loving family and a successful business, although he’s secretly dying of leukemia. After a dispute between his older son Will and his younger son Tyler, Tyler requests “his inheritance” and runs away to Las Vegas. Things spiral out of control when Tyler gets himself deep in debt to a ruthless gangster. Can Robert find his son and reconcile his family before either he or his son dies?
“My mother never told me the stories…all I knew were the pictures.”
So says director Loki Mulholland (Believe!) at the beginning of An Ordinary Hero, a tribute to his mother Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.
The pictures almost speak for themselves: a mug shot before her three month stint in prison at age 20, walking alongside Rev. Martin Luther King at age 21, and sitting at a counter surrounded by a raging crowd at age 23. Joan describes herself as “as ordinary as they come” but when she does decide to tell her story she shows she’s anything but.
An Ordinary Hero is available on DVD through the official site, and also through Amazon Instant Video.
The 13th LDS Film Festival kicks off in Orem, Utah this week. The 2014 Festival runs from Wednesday, February 5th through Saturday the 8th. The full schedule can be seen at the official site. Tickets can be bought online at the SCERA website.
Some highlights of this year’s schedule:
“Who is Mitt Romney?”
This question was asked after a “Today” show appearance early in the 2008 primary season after the largely unknown Mitt Romney had thrown his hat into the presidential race. Many are still asking it six years later, even after Romney won the Republican nomination in 2012 and lost in the general election.
Director Greg Whiteley (New York Doll) attempts to answer that question through Mitt, a new documentary created from footage following the Romneys on the campaign trail in 2008 and 2012. Mitt is available now for instant streaming through Netflix.
Two LDS missionaries get caught up in mob activity after a case of mistaken identity in Inspired Guns, a new film releasing in theaters January 24th, 2014.
Inspired Guns (IMDB, official site) is the brainchild of writer/director Adam White, a newcomer to the LDS cinema scene. Described as “The Best Two Years meets Dumb and Dumber“, Inspired Guns shares DNA with other LDS films as well — most obviously, Mobsters and Mormons with some Suits on the Loose mixed in.
Happy New Year! What’s new and what’s coming up in 2014?
In March of 1998, Elders Andrew Propst and Travis Tuttle arrived at a supposed teaching appointment in Saratov, Russia. Instead of investigators, they were attacked, bound, and gagged by two gunmen, who transported them to a remote location to be held for ransom…and possibly a snowy grave.
The Saratov Approach is a dramatization of their five day ordeal, written and directed by Garrett Batty (Scout Camp), and starring Corbin Allred (Saints & Soldiers) and Maclain Nelson (One Good Man) as the two missionaries. The Saratov Approach can be seen in theaters starting October 9, 2013.
Bryan Hall describes himself as “just an ordinary Mormon” who grew up in Utah surrounded by Mormon neighbors. Visiting Temple Square for LDS General Conference, he saw street preachers and “anti-Mormon” protesters standing outside every year. During the contentious presidential primaries in 2008 and 2012, Hall witnessed Mitt Romney and his religion get attacked and dismissed by Evangelical leaders and fellow Republicans.
Hall wondered: who are these people, and why do they hate us? His journey to understand the seemingly vast gulf between True ChristiansTM and Mormons is chronicled in the new documentary Us And Them — Religious Rivalry in America.
Us And Them, directed by Hall and Jack Donaldson, originally screened as Unresolvable? — The Kingdom of God on Earth at the 2013 LDS Film Festival, and will be released to general distribution October 1st, 2013 through Deseret Book and Excel Entertainment.