“Talena Sanders returned with an accomplished experimental feature…The wide-ranging Liahona is neither a straightforward indictment, nor a reconciled embrace, but a story inextricable from its artists’ own.”
-Genevieve Yue, Reverse Shot
“…an arresting, deceptively low-key indictment of Mormonism…”
-Tony Pipolo, ArtForum
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? Recorded on 16mm film, Liahona traverses Utah, Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois and Independence, Missouri to piece together this portrait of a faith.
World Premiere: New York Film Festival Views From the Avant-Garde, 2013
Nightingale Cinema, Chicago, 2014
Indie Grits Film Festival, Columbia, SC, 2014
First Person Cinema, Colorado University, Boulder, 2014
Counterpath Press, 2014
MassArt Film Society, 2014
International Premiere: Marseille International Documentary Film Festival (FID Marseille), 2014
as a part of the group exhibition The Starry Messenger, Void Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland
Indie Festival (Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, Brazil), 2014
Montreal International Documentary Film Festival (RIDM), 2014