2015 Sundance Docs in Focus: PROPHET’S PREY

prophet's preyAmy Berg returns to the Documentary Premieres section with her newest project: PROPHET’S PREY, an investigation into the rise and fall of fundamentalist sect leader Warren Jeffs.

Sundance Program Description:

When noted author Jon Krakauer stumbled upon a closed polygamous community in southern Utah in 1999, it caught him by surprise. Private investigator Sam Brower (whose 2011 book shares the film’s name) was already investigating the rogue sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Here the two men share their alarming allegations of sexual abuse, underage marriages, and pregnancies. Collaborating with a local Texas journalist who first reported the story, they retrace their involvement that led to the capture and conviction of the group’s maniacal leader, Warren Jeffs.

Gripping first-person accounts from former members and descendants of FLDS leadership paint a harrowing portrait where women are property, and men are forced to comply with the oppressive guidelines or face expulsion from their own families. Veteran director Amy Berg’s sobering examination of current religious indoctrination is a chilling reminder of the danger of a tyrannical “prophet’s” unchecked power.

Some Background:
An Oscar-nominee for her debut doc, DELIVER US FROM EVIL, Berg’s previous Sundance credits include, as director, WEST OF MEMPHIS (2012), and, as producer, BHUTTO (2010). Producers are Sam Brower, Erica Huggins, a Sundance alum as co-producer of fiction film GRIDLOCK’D (1997); and Katherine LeBlond; while executive producers in addition to Berg include Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, who produced Sundance alum INSIDE DEEP THROAT (2005); Jon Krakauer (also appearing in 2015 title MERU); Regina Kulik Scully, also an executive producer on this year’s DREAMCATCHER, THE HUNTING GROUND, and THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, and most recently at Sundance with last year’s PRIVATE VIOLENCE and FED UP; Geralyn White Dreyfous, also represented at this year’s festival by HOT GIRLS WANTED, IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST, THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, and DREAMCATCHER, and an alum with recent titles like THE CRASH REEL (2013), THE SQUARE (2013), and ANITA (2013); Dustin Lance Black, who edited Sundance short KISS AND TELL (2003); Shannon Costello; and Anna Culp. The project’s editors are Scott Stevenson, who cut Sundance fiction film SERIAL LOVER (1999), and Brendan Walsh.

Why You Should Watch:
Securing the participation of not only Krakauer and Brower, but key figures from within Jeffs’ circle of power, Berg is able to delve deeply, and insightfully, into the recent history of the FLDS and its self-declared prophet’s disturbing abuses.

More Info:
While there’s no standalone site for the film, check out Berg’s website. Check out Berg’s Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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