Christian Vuissa started the LDS Film Festival in 2001, showcasing film with a uniquely Mormon message and feel. Now its 13th year, the festival is held the historic SCERA center in Orem, Utah. As the films draw from a necessarily small base of filmmakers, the results have been somewhat uneven. However a few screenings have stood out. A screening on Thursday the 6th showed 5 theatrical and documentary shorts dealing with gender identity, sexual orientation, and the church. The first was by Torben Bernhard documenting a young trans-woman, the second and third were by Stephen Williams and were theatrical shorts dealing with male homosexuality and the church. Then Kendall Wilcox showed two documentaries. One was about Wilem, a gay punk rocker from Seattle who is a devout Mormon. The other was about the "It Gets Better" project at Brigham Young University. There was a discussion afterward with great input from the filmmakers and from the audience.


Friday morning, Christian Vuissa is offering (currently as of this writing) a discussion and presentation on Mormon cinema. He started out talking about the Saratov Approach, directed by Garret Batty as a Mormon blockbuster. Then he went onto talking about the general trends in film making as it applies to the greater film world, questions of quality, and where the Festival sits in the broader scheme of Mormon art and publishing. 


Overall, I find the level of quality coming out of Utah in film is of a surprisingly high quality and there is a real drive to tell a personal story. This "missionary" zeal exists perhaps because of the theology but is often a very personal statement.


Other great films found are by Rob Diamond (Prodigal Son story with gambling and gun play) and "Missed Connections" by Brandon Ho.

AuthorBrad Hawkins