Quantcast
LDS Church News

Meet the Mormons: A new feature-length documentary produced by the Church

By Sarah Jane Weaver

LDS Church News

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21 2014 1:50 p.m. MDT

Updated: Thursday, Aug. 21 2014 3:20 p.m. MDT

Blair Treu is the writer and director of the LDS Church's new documentary, "Meet the Mormons."

Photo courtesy IRI

As movie audiences across the country meet the humanitarian, the coach, the fighter, the bishop, the mom and the Candy Bomber, they will also get the chance to meet the Mormons.

For the first time in its history, the Church will release a feature-length documentary commercially on Oct. 10.

The new feature-length film, “Meet the Mormons,” highlights the lives of six Latter-day Saints who live across the globe — in areas spanning from the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, to the rain forests of Costa Rica, to the Salt Lake Valley.

The ordinary individuals tell extraordinary stories that are authentic — that will uplift and inspire, said producer Jeff Roberts.

“The intent of the film is to help people understand what our members are really like,” said Brother Roberts.

From the movie, he said, audiences will get a sense of what motivates Mormons. “They will get of sense of the ways someone’s life is enhanced by living the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He said the film conveys the Mormon faith, in terms of the impact it has on the lives of its members. “It does so in a way that is entertaining, uplifting and engaging. It is not preaching in any way. We are not trying to convert anyone, we are just trying to inform.”

Featured in the film are Retired Col. Gail Halvorsen, who was known as “The Candy Bomber” during the 1940s Berlin Airlift; Ken Niumatalolo, head football coach of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; Bishnu Adhikari, a humanitarian and engineer in Nepal; Carolina Muñoz Marin, an amateur kickboxer in Costa Rica; Jermaine Sullivan, an LDS bishop in Atlanta, Georgia; and Dawn Armstrong, a mother living in the Salt Lake Valley.

“How did we find them? Any way we could,” said the film’s writer and director, Blair Treu.

Brother Roberts said they pursued different channels to find the stories and people they featured in the film that would accurately represent the culturally, economically, racially, geographically diverse population of the Church. They sent a notice to local Church leaders asking for recommendations and engaged their own personal networks.

“Ultimately the stories that were selected, in so many ways, were stories we were led to. I know that sounds cliché. In reality, that is the way it happened.”

Brother Treu said that individuals featured in the film had to have an important quality: “The gospel has to be evident in the way they live their lives.”

In the beginning, “we were concerned with how we would find these families,” Brother Treu said. “In the end it was more about who we were going to cut because we had so many good options.”

Charged with producing the film for the Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City and for visitors’ centers across the globe, Brother Treu pitched the project to the First Presidency in late 2010. After the project was finished, Church leaders decided to expand the film's release due to the positive response from both LDS and non-LDS sample audiences.

Brother Treu said the objective was to give the film broader reach, making it available to members and their friends on the big screen — in their own cities and towns — and then eventually on cable TV, Internet streaming and in the Legacy Theater and visitors’ centers. The film will also be translated into 10 languages. Net proceeds from the commercial release of the film will be donated to charity.