‘Meet the Mormons’ announced by LDS Church as first feature length documentary

‘Meet the Mormons’ will feature the lives of six everyday members.

See the Deseret News for the full article

Producer Jeff Roberts, center back, with Carolina Muñoz Marin and her family in Costa Rica. Marin has fought her way to the top of women's amateur kickboxing in Costa Rica, challenging the traditional stereotypes of a Mormon woman.  Photo courtesy IRI - Deseret News Aug 19, 2014

Producer Jeff Roberts, center back, with Carolina Muñoz Marin and her family in Costa Rica. Marin has fought her way to the top of women’s amateur kickboxing in Costa Rica, challenging the traditional stereotypes of a Mormon woman.
Photo courtesy IRI – Deseret News Aug 19, 2014

For the first time in its history, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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 spanning from the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, to the rain forests of Costa Rica, to the Salt Lake Valley.

The film was financed by the church but net proceeds will be donated to charity.

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

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, a LDS bishop in Atlanta, Georgia; and Dawn Armstrong, a mother living in the Salt Lake Valley.

Ken Niumatalolo, head football coach of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis

Ken Niumatalolo, head football coach of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis

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

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

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 on cable TV, Internet streaming and in the Legacy Theater and visitors’ centers.

Church leaders have a lot of confidence in their membership, he said. “They never once, not once, ever told us who or where or what to shoot,” he said. “We were tasked with one thing: ‘Try to capture, as best you can, who we really are.’ That is it.”

Gail "Hal" Halvorsen, known to the world as the World War II Candy Bomber,

Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, known to the world as the World War II Candy Bomber,

Gail Halvorsen, who will turn 94 on the day the film opens, said participating in the project was the experience of a lifetime.

Jermaine Sullivan, who was a bishop at the time of filming and now serves as president of the Atlanta Georgia Stake, said he was nervous to begin filming.

I have never had this type of attention focused on me like this,” he said. “I hope that people learn a bit more about who we are, what we believe, what we do to serve and minister and help others.”

Dawn Armstrong, a young single mother who had hit rock bottom when she met the Mormon missionaries herself, is featured in the film helping her son — now older — prepare for full-time missionary service.

“In a world that seems so quick to tear down, I hope that people will choose to lift up, and most importantly, to look up,” she said. “Let love and understanding be a driving force in your life. I think that is the sincere message of the movie.”

“For more information about “Meet the Mormons” go to www.meetthemormons.com.