SLCFF, Part II | Save Yourself...

9/12/2012 | Amy Tibbals

SLCFF, Part II: Save Yourself for Mormon Spring Break

We plan to enthusiastically attend the Salt Lake City Film Festival -- the line-up is impressive, to be modest. But we're most delighted about one film, in particular:  for our money, you'll find us COLLECTIVELY posted up at the Broadway Theater on Thursday, September 20th at 7pm. This is where Duck Beach to Eternity will open the festival. This is where we should all be.

Duck Beach is a documentary -- the work of a non-religious Australian, an ex-Mormon, and an active Mormon -- that explores the experience of 4 Mormon singles in Duck, North Carolina. Each year, the small town is host to a Mormon 'spring break', wherein a few thousand flock from various parts of the country to scan the masses for an eternal companion. It's a gaping departure from any other 'spring break'; there's no booze, drugs, or sex, but the place is lousy with Mountain Dew and group prayer. See for yourself in the trailer below. Did we mention we're excited to see this? We're excited to see this.

For your part, you can purchase tickets to the film here and find more info on the film here. For our part, we asked co-director, Laura Naylor [the ex-Mormon, SLC native, and a favorite human of ours], a few questions about this atypical party...

Who had the idea to do a film about Duck? I'd love to say it was my brilliant idea, but, in fact, my co-director, Hadleigh, was the first one to think "we should make a film about this." I'd heard of Duck [and even had friends who'd gone], but as a former Mormon, I was still desensitized to the absurdity of it all. It was Hadleigh [the non-religious Australian] who saw Duck as a documentary gold mine when he heard about it. And he was right. This weekend-long, spring-break-Mormon-mate-finding-fest is the perfect lens to explore the curious, single Mormon plight.

Why Mormons? Why this particular event? As Newsweek put it, we're having a "Mormon Moment". From the rise of Mitt Romney to The Book of Mormon musical, people are talking about Mormons. And a lot of people actually know very little, or are completely misinformed. As filmmakers, we realized that this was the perfect time to give viewers an inside look into the experiences of young Mormons in modern America.

Was access to people/places an issue at all? Initially, no. When we first started interviewing people, we were surprised by how many were willing to speak on camera...and their openness. Then we launched a Kickstarter campaign [that ended up raising over $16,000], and it caused a minor uproar. People were polarized. They either thought it was a great idea and wanted to see the film made, or they were absolutely opposed to it. Historically, Mormons have had a bit of a persecution complex, and we experienced a bubbling-up of this. We were lucky to have four main subjects who embraced the idea of the film and allowed us into their personal worlds.

Were any of you surprised by what you saw/heard during filming? I wasn't too surprised because I grew up in Salt Lake. It felt oddly familiar...like I'd been thrust back into high school. It was interesting, however, to see how shocked and intrigued our hired crew was at the whole spectacle. Many of them had little or no experience with Mormons, and their minds were sort of blown. It was fun to watch.

Have you experienced any backlash since the film's debut? We had a great audience response to the film at the Seattle International Film Festival. At each screening, the entire audience stayed for long Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. I was excited by the level of enthusiasm and interest. In terms of the response from those in the film, of our 4 main subjects, 3 of them are thrilled with the final product and really championing the film. One of them has had some gripes with the way he was portrayed; he's even threatened to take legal action. His primary demand was that we take out a line where he jokes about "donating his wiener to science" [since it wasn't being used]. I found the line hilarious and wonderfully self-deprecating. He, after watching the film, did not.

How do you suppose a movie about Mormons will be received by Mormons [at the SLCFF]? We set out to make a fair and balanced portrayal of the single Mormons we experienced at Duck, and I think we accomplished that. But being fair and objective doesn't mean being exclusively positive, and we definitely touch on certain contradictions and challenges. Because of this, I'd imagine there will be a range of reactions from the Mormon community, and, hopefully, a lot of discussion.

Show your support for the Salt Lake City Film Festival and watch this movie. Show times and tickets here.

 

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