Liahona is an experimental documentary examining the culture, history, and lived experience of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the Mormon faith. The film creates a portrait of Mormonism through documentation of LDS cultural dominance in Utah, the suppressed history of folk magic in the early church, landmark Mormon life experiences, and Sanders personal history and connection to the church.
Found media with the voices of outsiders and insiders illuminate a religion that intrigues many, but is seen as mysterious or inaccessible. Liahona shifts through perspectives on the faith from reverence to questioning, presenting the complexities of the vast institution of Mormonism contrasted with the tenuity of individual faith. Liahona is an examination of how mysticism becomes mundane, the balance and the tension in Mormon life experience between the illogical and the pedestrian, the public face of Mormonism and gaps in accessibility. What is it about the Mormons that make them so distinctively different? Mormon history and theology makes for a thick material, not easily reduced to straightforward evaluation. Recorded on 16mm film, Liahona traverses Utah, Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois and Independence, Missouri to piece together this portrait of a faith.
Screenings Filmmaker Festival, Milan Italy (2014) Montreal International Documentary Film Festival (RIDM) (2014) Indie Festival, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2014) The Starry Messenger (group exhibition), Void Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland (2014) Marseille International Documentary Film Festival (FID Marseille), Marseille, France (2014) MassArt Film Society, Boston, MA (2014) Indie Grits Festival, Columbia SC (2014) First Person Cinema, CU Boulder (2014) A Peculiar People: Films by Talena Sanders, Nightingale Cinema, Chicago (2013) Views From the Avant-Garde, New York Film Festival (2013)