March 7, 2013 8:28 pm
Xan Aranda, producer/director of Mormon Movie, is "humbled and honored, thrilled" to have received a $50,000 grant from the Sage Foundation in support of what she describes as a "gathering year" of production for the film. "We approached the Sage Foundation fresh from the film's wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, letting them know we'd not only raised over $26,000, but also come away with an exciting sense of public interest in - and support for - the project," said Aranda. "It was our hope that the Sage Foundation would step forward as the major engine behind the film's strength during 2013, and they did. Because of the foundation, we will make major storytelling and fundraising strides this year. Impossible without them." Inspired by religious educational films her mother starred in while a student at Brigham Young University during the 1960s, the film sees director Xan Aranda (Andrew Bird: Fever Year) revisiting 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 Mormon 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 explored, Xan navigates the controversially clean-cut community she left behind – and her family’s spiritual fate beyond death. The film's production team is now actively preparing for three upcoming shoots made possible by this generous funding, shoots that will take Ms. Aranda and Director of Photography Peter Gilbert to Northern and Southern California, as well as rural Northwestern Mexico before June. Additional shoots in Utah, and a return to Mexico, are pending for autumn. Mormon Movie has also added to its production team, welcoming Melissa Fadim as an Executive Producer, and CoProducer Ky Dickens to the film's brain trust. Ms. Fadim, the creator and Executive Producer of the documentary series Islands Lost in Time, is also the EP of Kartemquin's On Beauty. She brings her keen eye and strong opinions to Mormon Movie, in addition to a love of this film's exploration of ancestry, identity, and faith. We're excited to spend time with her in the edit room later this year! Ms. Dickens directed and produced the highly acclaimed documentary Fish Out of Water, which was a breakout success on the festival circuit, and secured international distribution immediately after release. Her forthcoming doc Sole Survivor will have its world premiere in coming months. Ky is also a director with MK Films Group, a Chicago-based commercial production house. Those in Chicago can support the film at Victory Gardens Theater on Thursday, April 11 by attending a special evening with Mormon Movie's Xan Aranda and playwright Samuel D. Hunter for the Theater's presentation of The Whale. A post-play discussion will explore Mormonism, storytelling, and the intersection of themes within the play and film. Details TBA.