When my partner at Red Road Productions, Robert Chimento, first gave me his script of Follow the Prophet I couldn't imagine that the story was based on truth - until I started reading the research.
Follow the Prophet is the story about a young girl escaping from a Polygamy cult -- an edge of your seat thriller that explores how brainwashing is used to promote ritualistic underage marriage and sex offenses within polygamy cults where women and children are still living under the archaic rule that the man is the lord and master of all and must be obeyed without any further thought.
Our young leading character, Avery (played by ingénue Annie Burgstede) is coming of age and revolts the forced marriage to the self-proclaimed Prophet (Tom Noonan) .
At first she escapes the clutches of her father (David Conrad) and the Prophet, but then she finds out a younger girl will take her place and decides to expose the crimes of polygamy with the help of an Army col. Jude Marks (Robert Chimento) and an ex-cult member and renegade Sheriff named Red (Diane Venora). Her decision costs a lot.
This is not Big Love, which homogenizes the experience of the victims of polygamy. It's a disturbing look at the emotional roller coaster ride of people who make a valiant fight against sex offenders who feel entitled by religious law to do whatever they want to in the name of God.
We made this movie because we were outraged.
During the making of the film Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the fundamentalist church, went on the FBI's most wanted list, was caught, extradited to Utah and convicted as an accomplice to the rape of a 14 year old. He was also indicted in Arizona for eight felony counts including sexual misconduct and incest.
Then the State of Texas whose platform is strongly against sex offenders and pro child safety raided the Yearning for Zion ranch and 12 more men were indicted on felony charges of child sexual assault; Three have been convicted so far.
The film will debut theatrically at the Angelika Film Center in Houston, Texas where nearby the trials continue. The opening night premiere will benefit Texas Center for the Missing, provider of one of the largest Amber Alerts in our nation.
First and foremost we wanted to tell a great story and make a powerful film. I think we achieved that. With the help of Bernard/Scura Productions we put together an outstanding group of award winning cast members and filmmakers.
Here are some of the powerful ladies involved in bringing this film to you:
Emmy Award winning Director Drew Ann Rosenberg, Laurie Allen, one of our Executive Producers was producer of Banking on Heaven a groundbreaking documentary about polygamy. Laurie is a national figure and was kidnapped and escaped from a polygamy cult in Mexico. According to Laurie "my life is a living testament to this story".
Diane Venora plays Red, the renegade Sheriff; you will recognize her from her co-starring roles with Al Pacino in Heat and with Russell Crowe in Insider -- and her award winning performance in Clint Eastwood's Bird.
Annie Burgstede, does a fantastic job playing Avery.
Follow the Prophet receives a Remi Award at the Houston International Festival (WorldFest) in April, which represents artist Frederick Remington and the spirit of Texas and the American West.
At the heart of this picture is the message -- join forces, take a stand, you can make a difference.
See the trailer www.followtheprophetmovie.com
In May, Follow the Prophet will debut across North America on Video on Demand and for download via Gravitas Ventures through Warner Bros. Digital Distribution
Angelika Film Center
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To donate to Texas Center for the Missing or buy tickets for the opening night Premiere at the Angelika Film Center, Houston, Texas go to: www.tcftm.org