Kartemquin Offers ‘First Look’ at Mormon Doc, Launches Kickstarter Effort
September 19, 2012 by Screenmag
The "first look" at a ten minute work-in-progress sample from Mormon Movie, the sophomore effort by award-winning independent filmmaker Xan Aranda, has been released by documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films.
A Kickstarter campaign featuring the "first look" ends after Midnight (CST) Friday, September 28, 2012 and will provide funds essential to the film's progression from the Development stage to full Production.
Inspired by religious educational films her mother starred in while a student at Brigham Young University during the 1960s, Aranda revisits her ancestral religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) through the lens of two Mormon classics: a black-and-white-Western portraying an historic clash between colonists and Pancho Villa in Mexico, and a jewel-toned yet tragic cautionary tale about marriage and doubt. As deeper threads of LDS beliefs are revealed, Aranda explores the controversially clean-cut community she left behind - and her family's spiritual fate beyond death.
Further details about Mormon Movie's themes and elements - as well as the connection between presidential candidate Mitt Romney's family and that of director/producer Xan Aranda - are available on the film's Kickstarter campaign page:
Slated for release in 2014 with an approximate length of 80 minutes, Mormon Movie is the first intimate, independent look at the ongoing metamorphosis of this increasingly diverse religion, through the unfolding lives of real people with ties to the Motion Picture Studio.
"If you'd told me 16 years ago (after I'd just left the Mormon church) that I'd someday intimately re-engage the religion within a documentary, and direct that film with the same people who'd just produced Hoop Dreams, I'd have said you were nuts..." reports Aranda.
A producer with Kartemquin Films since 2007, Aranda pitched Mormon Movie to her colleagues at the 46-year old organization through several rounds as the film's concept developed. "Just because I'm a Kartemquin Associate doesn't mean I can make a film and declare it part of the collection," she says.
Kartemquin Executive Director Justine Nagan confirms organizational support for Mormon Movie.
"This project and its ambitious goals fit squarely within Kartemquin's mission and we are excited at the prospect of being the production home of the documentary and civic engagement campaign,” says Nagan. “We believe Mormon Movie has immense potential, through traditional and new media outlets, to engage a broad public in a conversation about art, ancestry, faith, and identity."
Nagan and Kartemquin founder/Artistic Director Gordon Quinn are now the Executive Producers of Mormon Movie.
Xan Aranda is a Producer of the multi award-winning 2008 Kartemquin release Milking the Rhino (directed by David E. Simpson), which received a four-star review from the Chicago Tribune. She served as Outreach Director for Prisoner of Her Past (Gordon Quinn) and handled the broadcast of both films on PBS. Ms. Aranda is also an active freelance consultant and "arts evangelist." Her clients have ranged from national universities and the U.S. Department of Education, to branding companies and advertising agencies, film festivals and emerging filmmakers.
Aranda's directorial debut, Andrew Bird: Fever Year had its World Premiere at Lincoln Center as part of the prestigious New York Film Festival nearly a year ago. The film is described by The Hollywood Reporter as "a gently illuminating look at a brilliant maverick musician... captured with grace and delicacy." Fever Year received the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Omaha Film Festival, Best Pop Culture Documentary at New Zealand's Documentary Edge Festival, the Audience Award at the Noise Pop Film Festival in San Francisco, and others. The film is her fourth collaboration with Andrew Bird.
The Mormon Movie "First Look" Kickstarter campaign raised over 10% of its $25k goal within 24 hours of launch, and is rapidly nearing the halfway mark. The "first look" has been viewed in 76 countries. "Backer Incentives" include Meet & Greets with indie-rock dynamo Neko Case, with whom Xan Aranda is collaborating on a forthcoming project, and gift bottles of SOFI award-winning O Olive Oil - the Aranda family business.
Other incentives include (among various others) VIP tickets to the Portland (OR) and Milwaukee (WI) premieres of Andrew Bird: Fever Year (which Ms. Aranda will attend); as well as a rare handful of opportunities to host a Home Viewing Party of that film - which is not available on DVD, despite popular demand.
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing fundraising platform. If Aranda and her team do not reach the $25k goal by Friday, September 28, they will not receive funds thus far pledged for Mormon Movie via Kickstarter, and the project will not move forward.
"We have a full year of shooting ahead,” Aranda. “I can't volunteer on Mormon Movie any longer, or ask others to do so, without compromising quality. The film is strong, one-of-a-kind, ready to staff up and go."