NPR on Mormon Cinema: All is [Not] Well

Howard Berkes is doing a story on NPR right now about Mormon Cinema. It ranges from the all in-joke Singles Ward to soundbites from the self-proclaimed "Mormon Spielberg," Richard Dutcher, to the promise of the festival-friendly " Saints and Soldiers.

I've never seen any of these Mo-Mo Movies, but a friend bought the feature rights to an LDS-related documentary, and a novel I'm optioning has a Mormon angle. For my money, you can't beat the doctrinal and educational films the Church itself produced in the 60's and 70's. I said as much in an onair discussion with Dutcher on KUER, the local Utah NPR affiliate. In that hour-long program last fall, the host managed to avoid any mention of the most critically acclaimed Mormon filmmaker, Neil LaBute, whose films show (to my religious eye) an awareness of the Mormon moral topography, but whose R-ratings keep more doctrinaire believers from ever seeing them.

Anyway, my gut tells me a movie has to be good before it's Mormon; if Dutcher wants to be a Mormon Spielberg, more power to him, but that's just aiming for the middle(brow).

The piece wraps up with a rock cover of Come, Come Ye Saints, a classic pioneer hymn, which, doesn't have the power of the punk rock version of that Sunday school staple, Give Said The Little Stream. It was from the high school band that inspired the movie, SLC Punk (another film that goes unmentioned, btw).

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: January 15, 2004.

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