From music to words to images, a film documentary can be its own kind of poetry. "Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons" exemplifies that in every way.

"It's an interesting piece ... in that it's not a church-proselyting piece, it is not a church-bashing piece," said Darius Aidan Gray, co-producer of the film. "We have attempted to be as objective as possible in letting the people tell their own stories, and I think we have succeeded in that."

"Nobody Knows" tells the history of black Mormons from the time of the church's restoration.

Gray and co-producer Margaret Blair Young have known and worked with each other for the past 10 years on various projects, including a trilogy of novels called "Standing on the Promises," which tells the history of black Mormon pioneers, some of whom are also highlighted in the documentary.

"So many people are eager for this story to be told," Young said. "It brings up issues that a lot of people haven't really resolved, and they want to know the history and they want to hear from people like Darius who joined before the priesthood revelation.

"They want to know the big things, like how did (Gray) stay and what kept him in the church."

Young said producing a documentary film was remarkable in the moments when the subjects told their personal — and sometimes difficult — stories.

"To see the person telling the story, that face-to-face encounter, I think is just so powerful," Young said.

Gray said the balance of heart-wrenching and inspiring moments has helped "Nobody Knows" become widely appreciated by viewers all over the country.

"It's joyful at times, it's sad at times, but it's honest all the way through," he said.

The film begins with the story of Elijah Abel, the first black seventy in the church. In 1836, he was ordained an elder, and in December of that same year he was ordained a seventy. He was not allowed to enter the temple to be sealed to his wife, Mary Ann Adams. The film also features footage of the protest against Brigham Young University athletics in 1968.

Gray says there's still a lot of misinformation about blacks and the church.

"Has it been a challenge? Yes," he said. "Is it a challenge yet? Yes, because of the misinformation that is still out there. The concepts that some people yet hold, the views that some people yet hold about who blacks are and who we have been and what our history has been, that's hurtful."

Production of the film took six years. In January, it was screened at the LDS Film Festival in Orem.


E-mail: jlarson@desnews.com


To find out more information on the film and to view a trailer, go to untoldstoryofblackmormons.com.