Religion and personal spiritual journeys can be enlightening and beautiful, messy and confusing — often all at once.
Mormon (with-an-asterisk) 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.
Opening 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:
There’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:
Faith, 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’.
A couple of films of interest to LDS audiences are coming to local theaters in October.
16 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.
Ryan 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!”
Coming 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.
Shawn Bradley’s NBA career is largely judged as a “failure”, although anyone who persists at the highest professional level of basketball for 12 years (and still ranks 16th all-time in blocked shots) cannot reasonably earn that label without being graded on a huge curve. (Wouldn’t Michael Olowakandi and Hasheem Thabeet love to have had Bradley’s career?)
ESPN/Grantland has a short 13-minute film about Bradley entitled “Posterized”, which is available for free viewing as part of the 30-for-30 documentary series. Directed by Andrew Jenks and named after the popular colloquialism for being dunked on and having the dunker (and ‘victim’) forever immortalized on a poster (of which Bradley has been the latter quite often) “Posterized” provides a brief look at Bradley’s decent-but-disappointing pro career and some glimpses of his post-basketball life.
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.