“‘Meet the Mormons’ in Movies,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 71
From Canada to Korea, the Andes to Australia, Norway to New Zealand, people are getting to know the Church and its members in movies.
A mark of the Church has always been its commitment to take the gospel to all people. Among the impressive modern approaches is the “Meet the Mormons” documentary film series, produced by the Church’s Public Communications Department.
Beginning in 1976 with Takin’ Care, which focuses on Latter-day Saints in Canada, Public Communications moved next to Britain with Mormons: Fact and Fantasy, to Korea with Mormons: People of Confidence and Joy, and to the Philippines with The Mormons, completing these in 1978. Since then the Church has produced films in Italy, Spain, Latin America, the Andes, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. Three more still in process are being filmed in Brazil, Venezuela/Colombia, and Japan.
“Meet the Mormons” films are produced to be marketed internationally to television stations, to educate broadcasters who might inadvertently promote erroneous concepts about the Church, and to motivate broadcasters to produce other television programs on the Church. The films are also to be used in non-broadcast situations—open houses, firesides, and other special presentations—by missionaries and members to gain the interest of nonmembers.
Already one of the films has achieved recognition. Mormons: Fact and Fantasy, narrated by non-Mormon radio personality Richard Baker, also features Lord Thompson of Fleet and Lord Cannon Bates of the Liverpool Cathedral, also nonmembers, who state the Church’s position in a positive, accurate manner. Out of 63 entries, this film placed second in the 1978 Canadian film festival. It also received a complimentary review in the Autumn 1980 issue of the British Journal of Religious Education.
Nonmember participation in the films has proven especially effective in attracting the attention of other nonmembers. The New Zealand film, Profile of a People—New Zealand, is narrated by Sir Edmund Hillary, a nonmember. The narrator in the Australian film, Profile of a People—Australia, is nonmember Ron Barassi, a nationally known rugby player and TV sportscaster.
What the film series does to accelerate missionary work is particularly noteworthy. The Canadian film, Takin’ Care, has become by far one of the most suitable means in Eastern Canada of introducing friends and investigators to the Church. It can prove especially effective if viewed by investigators early in their introduction to the gospel, as protection against erroneous concepts. The film brings many questions to mind and thus gets investigators interested in learning more.
The Korean film, produced along with the Philippine film, by Universal Studios for the Church, has also gained similar response. Shown at a fireside attended by 250 investigators, it made the difference in helping some of them commit to baptism.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the documentary films is their spontaneous straightforward approach. They provide an honest portrayal of members of the Church in their own culture and in some of their daily family and professional endeavors as well as in numerous Church and gospel-related activities.
Among the members featured in various films are a glass blower, an automobile repairman, a ballet teacher, a musician, a converted drinker, a chemistry teacher, a climatologist, a bride getting ready for a temple marriage, a dentist, a farmer, an older couple sharing a family history, a vice president of a corporation, and members working on a Church stake welfare farm.
Some of these members take part in explaining programs and organizations of the Church and give meaning to the Word of Wisdom and the Church’s emphasis on physical fitness and general good health; the welfare program and our belief in self-reliance through honorable work; self-realization through education, professions, and the development and sharing of talents; the importance of family, temple marriage, genealogy, and unity.
“Meet the Mormons” films show the basic sameness of people throughout the world as they react to the Church and its members, learn more, become converted, and share testimonies about the happiness they have found in living the gospel.