Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have wondered what the lives of the Book of Mormon’s three witnesses were like might have their golden questions answered in the new film “Witnesses.”
The full-length motion picture premiered Wednesday at the LDS Film Festival’s 20th Anniversary opening night.
The 110-minute feature is one of five major full-length movies being shown or premiering during the event that ends Saturday night with an awards ceremony.
Many of the shows appear only once during the festival’s four-day run.
Along with the full-length features, there are several short films, documentaries, music videos and lecture/workshops with producers, directors, writers and actors. The schedule is enough to keep two theaters and a large lecture hall busy — and socially distanced.
Kels Goodman, president of the LDS Film Festival, greeted the Wednesday evening guests with a huge welcome to the in-person event.
Goodman noted the vision of the festival is to “Envision, Create and Illuminate.”
“Witnesses” did just that and will most likely do it again when it has its public opening June 3 in Utah theaters, before expanding to a larger market.
According to the promotional information, “For nearly 200 years, skeptics and critics have been trying to explain away what many Book of Mormon witnesses state – that they had seen angels and hefted golden metal plates containing ancient inscriptions.” The film is directed by Mark Goodman.
Not only do you see into the lives of the witnesses — Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris — but you also meet a young, emerging prophet Joseph Smith.
According to Mark Goodman, the movie was a two-year journey. The crew filmed in Canada and at historical Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.
According to the movie’s executive team, they also are doing a two-hour documentary on the making of the movie and more of the three witnesses’ personal stories.
On Friday night festival attendees will be able to see “Quarantine For Two,” directed by festival head Kels Goodman.
The movie, written and filmed during the 2020 pandemic, has characters Chase and Kenzie meeting online. Their lives don’t allow them to be in the same room, so Chase invents dates that can be done virtually. The question is, will their relationship last at a distance? The 87-minute film features just the two characters, but according Kels Goodman, it’s not boring.
There are light stories and heavy, thought-provoking films. All are family friendly but in some cases not interesting to the very young.
Short film “The Happiest Years” has a young Latter-day Saint finding the true meaning of being a missionary where he least expects it. The film is in Spanish and is directed by Alejandro Carranza Valenzuela.
Feature documentary “Gagauzes: In the Sign of Cross and Wolf,” according to festival information, is a documentary in which the belief language and culture of the Gagauz people are explained to the audience with different Gagauz generations, the Oguzsport Football Team, wolf (monster) symbol, ethnography museum, cinema, women’s monastery and more. Gagauz people who tried to protect themselves under the pressure of the repressive Soviet regime and atheism in the past, speak of themselves. The documentary is 60 minutes and is directed by Ali Kerem Gulermen.
There is just about something for everyone. Tickets are available at the SCERA Center for the Arts at 720 South and State Street in Orem, or online.
For more information and the ongoing list of programming, visit ldsfilmfestival.com.
COVID-19 rules are in place and are enforced as this is an all in-person event.