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Liahona Excerpt

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Audience Awards

This film competed in
Women's Film Challenge


Director(s): Talena Sanders

Liahona is an experimental documentary examining the culture, history, and lived experience of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the Mormon faith. The film creates a portrait of Mormonism through documentation of LDS cultural dominance in Utah, the suppressed history of folk magic in the early church, landmark Mormon life experiences, and Sanders’ personal history and connection to the church. Found media with the voices of outsiders and insiders illuminate a religion that intrigues many, but is seen as mysterious or inaccessible. Liahona shifts through perspectives on the faith – from reverence to questioning, presenting the complexities of the vast institution of Mormonism contrasted with the tenuity of individual faith. Liahona is an examination of how mysticism becomes mundane, the balance and the tension in Mormon life experience between the illogical and the pedestrian, the public face of Mormonism and gaps in accessibility. What is it about the Mormons that make them so distinctively different? Mormon history and theology makes for a thick material, not easily reduced to straightforward evaluation. Recorded on 16mm film, Liahona traverses Utah, Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois and Independence, Missouri to piece together this portrait of a faith. This is an excerpt from a 70 minute long feature film shot entirely on 16mm film. This excerpt features the importance of the mission in Mormon culture. Director/DP/Sound/Editor: Talena Sanders

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