About this project
Family / Cinema
Inspired by religious educational films her mother starred in while a student at Brigham Young University during the 1960s, director Xan Aranda revisits her ancestral religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) through the lens of two Mormon classics: a black-and-white Western portraying an historic clash between colonists and Pancho Villa in Mexico, and a jewel-toned yet tragic cautionary tale about marriage and doubt. As deeper threads of LDS beliefs are revealed, Xan explores the controversially clean-cut community she left behind – and her family’s spiritual fate beyond death.
Storytelling / Utah
Quietly tucked within the bustling college town of Provo, Utah is a Motion Picture Studio (MPS) reminiscent of old Hollywood. Among backlots and sound stages, the church has honed its storytelling craft since 1953, after Wetzel O. Whitaker left his job with Disney in Los Angeles to run the Studio. By the time 19-year-old Dana (Xan's mother) was cast in two films he produced, Whitaker's films had made a decade's worth of leaps in quality. In Summer of Decision, as her on-screen fiancé Bill struggles with questions arising from his exposure to a non-Mormon college, Nancy (Dana) joins him in cutting corners on the proper pathway to eternal marriage. We will explore how Whitaker and his team chose to tell this particular story in 1964, as campuses across the nation erupted over civil rights, politics, and free speech. Mormon Movie will also delve deeper into the creation of the MPS, and its influence on future generations of LDS storytellers.
Martyrdom / Mexico
A year after Summer of Decision is completed, Dana is engaged to be married - preparing save-the-date cards after each day on set of an ambitious new film the Studio has undertaken. And Should We Die depicts fatal clashes between revolutionary general Pancho Villa and Mormons who colonized just south of the Texas border. The film inspired viewers with its tale of religious conviction in the face of death. Even after decades of adjustment between Mexicans and Mormons, a balance was still being navigated by LDS Mexicans like Mario, Dana's real-life fiancé, who grew up there. Our cameras will accompany Xan on her first visit to the Colonies as she interacts with descendants of the colonists and martyrs, learns about why these Mormons left America, and investigates why Mario never returned to the Colonies.
Exile / Eternity
Also for the first time, Xan addresses the quiet heartbreak that comes from another form of exile: her choice to leave the church sixteen years ago, during college. Growing statistics show that more than half of all modern Christian twenty-somethings leave active involvement in their church. Through her interaction with the arts culture her parents' creative circle at BYU and the MPS produced, we observe the same delicate window in lives that would for many decades hold steady in the face of difficulty with doctrine, politics, homosexuality, and family obligations - only to make life-shattering shifts later.
Faith / America
Mormon Movie will add spectrum to conversations about Mormon society, strive to clarify perspectives, and provide the first intimate, independent look at the ongoing metamorphosis of this increasingly diverse “new American religion” through the unfolding lives of real people with ties to the Motion Picture Studio.
MM is rounding that crucial corner from Development into Production. We have a full year of shooting ahead, cannot move forward without funds. This is a feature-length documentary with a target release of 2014. Much to do!
To raise over $25,000 for MM by end of day Friday, September 28.
WHAT YOUR DONATION SUPPORTS
Funds raised will enable us to add much-needed additional perspectives and voices to the film. You'll get us shooting with collaborators and subjects in Utah, Mexico, and beyond - building out the film's first rough-cut. Enable us to rent gear, hire crew, write grants, and stay active!
~ KICKSTARTER IS AN ALL-OR-NOTHING FUNDRAISING PLATFORM ~
HOW IT WORKS
- Watch the video (first part = 1.5 min., "work in progress" = 10 min.)
- Browse Pledge levels, get excited about Thank You gifts----->
- Click on desired Pledge amount, complete steps via Amazon
- Your card will be NOT be charged until campaign ends
- Thank You gifts (except for Hideout Block Party passes) will be fulfilled according to their listed availability, after campaign ends
- If $25k goal is not met, your card will NOT be charged
- If goal is not met, you will NOT receive your Thank You gifts
- If goal is met, Kickstarter keeps 5% of Gross funds pledged
- If goal is met, Amazon keeps 3-5% of Gross funds pledged
There's NO LIMIT to the amount of funds we can raise via Kickstarter.
If goal is not met, MM receives no funds. If met, Net funds raised go directly to Kartemquin Films from Amazon, earmarked for MM.
Mormon Movie shares its home with dozens of award-winning social issue documentaries celebrated worldwide - a home which has served the media arts community since 1966 and continues to expand programs to emerging and veteran filmmakers. Kartemquin Films is a 501(c)3 non-profit Corporation and your donation is considered tax-free, to the extent of the law. Your accountant should determine the deductibility of this donation on your personal tax return.
Director & Producer: Xan Aranda
Co-Producer: Rachel Pikelny
Executive Producers: Gordon Quinn & Justine Nagan
Click here for credits related to the above video clips.
During MM's early stages, 40 individuals donated in support of initial shoots and research. This project was then developed with support of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Mormon Movie is also partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
MormonMovie@Gmail.com // www.MormonMovie.org
www.Kartemquin.com // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr
Hideout Block Party, Sept 14 & 15 in Chicago
Andrew Bird: Fever Year, Sept 29 at Milwaukee Film Festival
Andrew Bird: Fever Year, October 6 in Portland, Oregon
O Olive Oil "Natural Box" Gift
Big Picture Farm, Vermont
Flyway Film Festival, Oct 18-21 in Pepin, Wisconsin
Rebecca Gates and the Consortium
Lula Cafe in Chicago
Theaster Gates, Cultural Planner-Artist-Potter
Support this project
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