2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: WILD WILD COUNTRY

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Chapman Way and Maclain Way revisit an Indian spiritual community’s attempt to take over a small Oregon town in this gripping docuseries.

Festival Section:
Special Events

Sundance Program Description:

On a quiet day in 1981, disciples of an obscenely wealthy religious guru named Bhagwan Rajneesh suddenly appear in the small, conservative Oregon town of Antelope, dressed in all red and with portraits of their leader hanging from their necks. This, of course, makes the townsfolk uneasy.

The Rajneesh followers spend over $125 million to build Rajneeshpuram, a 64,000-acre utopia, complete with a hospital, schools, restaurants, a shopping mall, and their own airport. The spokesperson for the movement is Ma Anand Sheela, a fearless disciple whose belief in the principles of Rajneesh are only outweighed by her feisty spirit. In order to stack the results of county elections in their favor, the Rajneesh bus thousands of homeless people onto the ranch. When these new recruits are denied voting rights by the state, Rajneesh leaders surreptitiously infect local restaurants with salmonella, resulting in the largest biochemical terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And that’s only the beginning…

Directors Maclain and Chapman Way, whose debut documentary, THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, return with this riveting six-part docuseries that recounts the amazing true story of a fallen religious movement.

Some Background:

  • Chapman Way and Maclain Way
    Past Sundance docs:


    Brothers Chapman and Maclain have also directed a documentary segment for Amazon’s THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS.


  • Juliana Lembi
    Past Sundance docs:


    Lembi produced the Way brothers’ NEW YORKER documentary short.

Executive Producers:

  • Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass

    The Duplass brothers have screened several of their fiction films at Sundance, including their breakthrough debut feature THE PUFFY CHAIR (2005), but this marks the first documentary at the festival that they produced.

  • Josh Braun
    Past Sundance docs:

    IVORY TOWER (2014, producer)

    Together with his twin Dan, Braun is co-founder and co-president of Submarine Entertainment. He is also an executive producer for 2018 title KUSAMA – INFINITY. As one of the most sought after sales agents in the US, Braun represents numerous titles at the festival each year.

  • Dan Braun

    Braun is a co-founder/co-president of Submarine Entertainment. He is also an executive producer for 2018 Sundance Doc Premieres title BAD REPUTATION and US Documentary Competition title KUSAMA – INFINITY. While these are his first Sundance producing credits, he has been involved with countless film sales at the festival in the past.


  • Neil Meiklejohn
    Past Sundance docs:


    Meiklejohn also cut the Ways’ NEW YORKER doc short.

Why You Should Watch:
The Way brothers craft an immediately compulsively watchable series from the stranger-than-fiction early 1980s history of the Rajneesh movement and its efforts to establish a utopian society on American soil, drawing on fantastic archival footage and compelling interviews with townsfolk and Rajneesh followers alike.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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

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