LDS Film Festival 2015 Schedule Announced

ldsff2015The final schedule for the 2015 LDS Film Festival has been announced at the festival’s official web site.

The festival will be held March 4-7, 2015 at the SCERA Center in Orem, Utah.  Tickets can be purchased through the SCERA website.

Some highlights of this year’s schedule:

*  As previously announced, director Garrett Batty’s follow-up to The Saratov Approach will be the opening night film on Wednesday, March 4th.   Based on true events, Freetown features a story of native LDS missionaries in Liberia who attempt to escape local violence to the city of Freetown.
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Coming Soon: Heart of Africa (and more!)

973-Heart-of-AfricaMargaret Blair Young, a writing professor and MTC teacher at BYU, is no stranger to black history, especially black LDS history.

With frequent collaborator Darius Gray (long-time leader of the LDS Genesis Group, a support group for black Mormons) they’ve co-written several books on black Mormon history as well as produced the 2008 documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold History of Black Mormons.  Young has also written the play I Am Jane, about the life story of early black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James.
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Review: The Last Straw (B-)

the-last-strawThe phrase “the last straw” or “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is of uncertain origin, but typically has a negative connotation — some final personal indignity that leads to fireworks.  Director Rob Diamond (Wayward, Once Upon A Summer) wants to turn that metaphor into something positive in The Last Straw, a new Christmas film available now on DVD.

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Review: Liahona (Documentary)

liahonaReligion and personal spiritual journeys can be enlightening and beautiful, messy and confusing — often all at once.

Mormon (with-an-asterisk1Sanders has written her official request for record removal — this is part of the film, in fact —  but hasn’t of yet sent it to Church HQ.   So, officially she’s still LDS but probably close enough to “ex-” for LDS audiences who care about filmmaker faithfulness.) filmmaker Talena Sanders (homepage) has created Liahona, a 69-minute documentary that represents her own meditations on Mormonism — an experimental and personal film that’s symbolically enlightening, beautiful, messy, and confusing in the same way.

Liahona is currently screening at select film festivals with alternate distribution options in the pipeline.
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Footnotes   [ + ]

Now Playing: Wayward — The Prodigal Son

waywardOpening in theaters November 7th:  Wayward — The Prodigal Son, written and directed by Rob Diamond (Once Upon A Summer, Elizabeth’s Gift).

Wayward (official site, Facebook page) is a modern-day retelling of the parable from Luke 15.    Tyler is a young ambitious man who requests his ‘inheritance’ from his father and leaves home to seek fortune and glory.   After encountering hard times and physical danger, Tyler isn’t sure he’s capable or worthy of returning home until his father’s love helps bring him back to the fold.

Wayward originally screened at the 2014 LDS Film Festival (my review here) and its focus on a popular Biblical parable has gotten the film some attention from Christian groups outside of the Mormon corridor — a good sign for crossover box office potential.

The trailer is below:

Review: Meet The Mormons

meetthemormonsThere’s no mystery to what Meet The Mormons is:  “I’m A Mormon – The Movie”.   The six 10-12 minute segments of this LDS Church-produced documentary focus on six Latter-Day Saint individuals from disparate countries and backgrounds, with a brief glimpse at how their lives and faith intersect.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a mystery as to how and why Meet The Mormons is:
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Review: 16 Stones (C)

16stonesfinalpostersmallFaith, according to Alma 32, is “a hope for things that are not seen, but are true”.  Does that mean faith only exists where direct evidence does not?  Can faith exist in the face of contrary evidence?  Or does evidence, in fact, inform faith?

16 Stones – the latest film from director Brian Brough and writer Brittany Wiscombe (Beauty & The Beast, Rescued, Turn Around, and Christmas Angel) — is set in 1838 but addresses an issue relevant today: the modern debate often framed as ‘science vs. religion’, ‘belief vs. reason’, or ‘faith vs. evidence’.
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Coming Soon: October Film Releases

A couple of films of interest to LDS audiences are coming to local theaters in October.

16stonesfinalpostersmall16 Stones is the new film from director Brian Brough and longtime writing partner Brittany Wiscombe — the team behind Turn Around, Christmas Angel, Rescued, and the LDS Beauty & The Beast.

Set in 1830′s Missouri, the film centers around a young Mormon convert who goes searching for the sixteen stones “touched by the Hand of the Lord” from the Book of Mormon.  In the vein of the Work & Glory series, 16 Stones looks to mix fictional characters with historical Church figures for a faith-promoting story.
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Review: Saints & Soldiers — The Void (B)

ss_voidRyan Little’s Saints & Soldiers “trilogy” of World War II films — loosely defined as there’s no common characters or stories between them — continues with The Void, released on August 15th and now playing in local theaters.

Following the original Saints & Soldiers in 2003 and the lesser 2012 sequel Airborne Creed (which Little directed but didn’t write), Little has approached this WWII story from a new angle: racial bigotry and segregation within the US army.  (Plus, a lot more tanks!)

This is a weightier theme to bite off obviously (the racism, not the tanks) and one that shows Ryan Little has more significant and ambitious objectives with his third Saints & Soldiers film than merely “Hey, we still have a bunch of equipment and uniforms left over, might as well make another movie!”

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Coming Soon: Saints & Soldiers — The Void

ss_voidComing soon: Saints & Soldiers: The Void, the third film in the Saints & Soldiers series, written and directed by Ryan Little.

Plot information is sparse, but the trailer and official synopsis promise more tank action than the first or second film, plus a nuanced look at racial conflicts among US troops in World War II.

Saints & Soldiers: The Void is scheduled for release in theaters August 15th, 2014.

More information about the film can be found at the official site and the Saints & Soldiers 3 Facebook page.

 

 

Reviews, News, and Analysis About LDS (Mormon) Film