In theatres from director Blair Treu and Purdi Distribution is a look at people, families and lives with MEET THE MORMONS.
The film dives right in with Jenna, a bubbly young lady who is in Times Square asking diverse individuals what they know about Mormons. Hearing everything from ‘they don’t dance’ to ‘they have their own God’ – this documentary takes it further.
First, there is Jermaine Sullivan and his wife Kembi from Atlanta, Georgia. Jermaine is an Academic Counselor at the local school and a Bishop in the church who volunteers his time with the youth. Wife Kimbe is a virtual teacher who also takes care of their three young boys. The family values their time together and helping others. Jermaine’s sister is lives in Alabama and is a Baptist but they see no difference in their beliefs.
Then there is Coach Ken Niumatalolo, Coach of the U.S. Naval Academy’s football team. Along with wife Barbara and their three children, it is clear that their faith guides them in everything they do. Dedicated to family is the Coach’s first priority as well as teaching Sunday school. When taking the coaching job, Coach made sure that Sunday’s were for his faith and family which his colleagues accepted and admire.
In Costa Rica, Milton and Carolina Marina Munoz and their two sons are the outdoor family! From beaches to sliding on rigs down mountains it is always a family affair. The surprise here is that Carolina is an MMA boxer who competes in tournaments with husband Milton as her coach. If that isn’t enough, they have their own martial art/boxing school together.
A retired pilot Col. Gail Halverson from Elizabeth City, North Carolina is 92 years old bringing a history like no other. In 1948, Halverson was part of the squad of planes that brought food into Berlin. Seeing children at the fence and two pieces of gum later, Halverson would create the Candy Bombers and children would remember him this very day.
In Kathmandu, Nepal at the top of the world is Bishnu Adhikari, his wife Mangala and their three children live. Bishnu studied engineering abroad and came home to help the people in the surrounding area with schools, road and water projects. Telling his father of his faith brings such an amazing response from both men.
Finally, there is the Armstrong family. Dawn’s life was very difficult growing up from a broken home, living on her own and a teen pregnancy gave her son Anthony. When she had almost given up hope, her life began to change. Marrying Don, who accepted Anthony as his own with no hesitation, it is time for this young man to go on mission to Africa. This is a mother’s happiness for her son yet emotion at seeing him go.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MEET THE MORMONS four tubs of popcorn out of five. What captured my attention most about this film is that it isn’t preachy in any sense of the word. Instead it’s a very emotional look at the lives of everyday people who have chosen their own way.
The simplest part of this film is that if the word ‘Mormon’ hadn’t been mentioned this still would be a film about six individuals who have dedicated their lives to something good. That’s what most of us strive for isn’t it? Combing the teachings of the Bible with the Book of Mormon, these six families share what they have learned on their personal journey.
I’ve seen documentaries about fighting frakking, to saving dolphins, to tent revivals to walking across the desert so a person could find their inner whatever so why shouldn’t Mormons share in the same way? I’m all for documentary equality!
Now that being said, and this is from an outsiders perspective of course, I think telling the history of the LDS would really have gone that extra mile in helping to educate. Like anything that people know little about – the truth gets clouded by rumor and speculation and usually by someone who is uninformed. It’s a vicious circle that could easily be broken.
I enjoyed MEET THE MORMONS actually. Also, the cinematography in Nepal and Costa Rica is just breathtaking! There is such charm in Elizabeth City and even more southern charm in Georgia (I’m particular to Savannah myself), and USNA football town & pride for sure and finally Utah itself.
In the end – six ordinary individuals with six extraordinary stories!