Sons of Perdition is the fourth film I’ve watched at the Discovery Channel AFI Silver Docs Film Fest in Silver Spring, MD. Directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten were on hand to introduce the film and encouraged us to remain after for a big surprise. Theater 2 at the AFI was packed to capascity with more people trying to get in. There was a big buzz over Sons of Perdition. It’s a sobering look at the struggles of teenagers exiled from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) a cultish sect of Mormonism that split when the church banded polygamy over a hundred years ago. Once exiled their families will no longer speak to them and they are run out of town. The Church and town is leadership is under the thumb of the “Prophet” Warren Jeff who is currently serving a life sentence in prison. He arranges all marriages and if you displease him he will take your business, your family, and all of your wives even from prison he has complete control.
Other Silver Docs Reviews
We Don’t Care About Music Anyways…
The Inventions of Dr. Nakamats
This was an amazing film following the three exiled teens and the network of other exiles. The teen’s band together to survive outside the FLDS controlled town, The Creek (pronounced CRIK) by allowing people to sleep on their couch or connecting them with social workers. So sheltered two of the boys entered an ornate Catholic Church and remarked, “So Catholics believe in Jesus too?” The other boy said, “I guess so.” The boys are sent to work in construction at a very young age while the girls are prepared to become wives by the age of 14. All marriages are controlled and arranged by the “Prophet” Warren Jeffs who has over 80 wives.
Without parents the boys quickly find themselves with no options, but they would rather think for themselves than be brainwashed by the FLDS. They can work almost any construction and heavy labor jobs, but want to attend school and even college. The FLDS provides a limited education consisting of working for your father, math, and religious studies (brain washing). The boys aren’t bitter against religion, but just the church and the “Prophet” Warren Jeffs. Most of them suffer from emotional problems, memories of physical abuse, and drug use. The exiles band together because they don’t have to explain themselves to each other, but the outside world views them as an oddity. One woman was 24 and had five children which she left behind to flee the Creek. When the exiles party she drinks and then starts crying uncontrollably, the others don’t react because this is apparently common place.
Life changes quickly as the boys try to find a home and a family. They finally find shelter with a man named Jeff, who is also Mormon, and takes the boys in. When the boys test positive for drugs he wants them out right away. So they go right back to crashing on couches and looking for a family.
One of the boy’s sisters keeps escaping only to return to her father again. She finally escaped and now attends regular school. One of them is attending college and they all work to help other family members get free.
Q&A With Surprise
The surprise is the three teen boys from the film ready to answer questions along with the film makers.
Q: (To Film Makers) How did you get connected with the boys?
A: It wasn’t easy, we’re both formerly Mormons so we were attracted to the subject just by reading the new about it. Then we contacted a social worker in the area who connected us with the boys. They told us to fuck off more than once (boys laugh). I think when they finally realized we didn’t want to make them into a freakshow, but just tell their story then they became interested.
Q: (To Everyone) Why did Jeff take the boys in to then only kneejerk reaction to the drug test and kick them out.
A: (From Filmmakers) It didn’t happen that abruptly they had talked to each other for a while and it just wasn’t working for a number of reasons. Also it’s normal for Mormon’s to take people in, it’s a tradition, so he’s not that strange. He also had other kids and just got in over his head.
A: (From Boys): We also had a miscommunication because we thought he wanted us to be a family when really he just wanted this to be a launching pad to something else.
Q: (To Boys) Did you ever get mad at Hilary for escaping then going right back.
A: (Tyler Mesom jumps in) It actually happened 3 other times, but I didn’t want it to be a mini saga.
A: (Hillary’s Brother) I mean yeah sometimes I just wanted her to get it together, but it’s her choice and you have to make it on your own. I’m happy she finally did.
Q: (To boys) Are you helping other family members get out.
A: (Hillary’s Brother) I actually dropped out of college and am trying to save up money to get a place for my cousin to live with me because he wants to escape.
If you enjoyed FILM TITLE you may also enjoy:
– Jesus Camp
– Hell House
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