In his upcoming film, "A Mormon President," director Adam Christing explores whether America is ready for a Mormon president. Christing and his team take a comprehensive look at the faith system's history and the multitude of contemporary thoughts, opinions and controversies that often surround it. Central to the documentary is Joseph Smith, the theocrat, politician and religious leader who founded the Latter Day Saint Movement (also known as the Mormon Church).
In an interview with Deseret News, Christing explains the potential controversy associated with the film. While he personally believes his portrayal of Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is fair, viewers thus far have a diversity of opinion on the matter. He explains:
"...When we screened the early version of the film in Salt Lake, non-Mormons thought it was a pro-Mormon piece. LDS attendees thought it was anti-Mormon."
Clearly, the documentary, like any other project that has a religious or political theme, is contentious in its own right. You can watch the trailer, below, to get a better sense of the subject matter:
Christing, who attended the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (now known as The Community of Christ) as a child but who now has no allegiance to the Mormon faith, says the film aims to provide viewers with a rich, educational history. While he has been separated from the Church for years, he finds its history fascinating. In an interview with The Blaze, he explains:
"As a kid I was enamored with Joseph Smith. A few years back I started reading more and more about Mormon history. I made a mock-umentary for fun a few years back. After that, I said 'hey I’ve got to find a way to fuse my passion for film with interest in Mormonism.'"
Thus, the concept for "A Mormon President" was born. The filmmaker first began working on the project back in 2007 during Romney's initial bid for the presidency. While the final product was intended for television broadcast, Christing changed course, decided to collect more footage and is just now ready to release his completed work.
The film -- which will be released on DVD on August 15th -- will provide a historical account of Smith's life conveyed through expert opinion and reenactments that collectively help to bring the story to life.
A separate segment will include profiles and information on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman -- two Mormons currently competing for the 2012 Republican ticket. When it comes to overall goals, Christing makes his clear:
"My main goal is to tell the Joseph Smith story in the most historically accurate way and the most entertaining way possible..."
While the film does, indeed, delve into modern -- not to mention historic -- critiques of the Mormon Church, Christing strikes an aura of balance. Based on screener footage that The Blaze obtained earlier this week, interview subjects include Mormons, ex-believers and historians -- all of whom contribute relevant pieces to the overall puzzle.
The filmmaker tells The Blaze that he is astounded that more documentarians haven't tackled this fascinating subject:
"Here’s a guy who had the largest standing army outside the U.S., married to 33 women, mayor of the town, ran for president. There's just so much there."
In the end, Christing hopes that viewers understand that "ideas have consequences." In keeping with his stated goal of simply educating the audience, he says:
"Whether you end up embracing Smith, rejecting him, wanting to learn more -- it’s a wonderful thing. This doc is almost like history come alive."
One subject that has already emerged in 2012 campaign discussion is the sometimes fearful reluctance some have to a Mormon assuming the American presidency. The film addresses this issue and provides historical context that helps to better frame where the roots of this opposition originated. The Washington Times has more:
Christing...says public opposition to the candidacies of Mr. Romney and Mr. Huntsman has historic roots.
“Most Americans don’t know that the first U.S. presidential candidate to be assassinated was a Mormon. In fact, he was the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. The Mormon prophet was murdered a few months after he announced his candidacy in 1844,” Mr. Christing says.
The end result is sure to be an intriguing experience for viewers who have an interest in both faith and politics. For more information on the film, click here.