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Joan Sweeny

Joan Sweeny

Posted: April 16, 2010 01:28 PM

New Film Exposes Sex Offenses in Polygamy Cult

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


join us on FACEBOOK for the Follow the Prophet movie fan site.

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

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View Comments:
- New The-JuRK I'm a Fan of The-JuRK 12 fans permalink

If this film is as good as it sounds, I hope it finds an audience. A very wide audience.

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 03:52 AM on 4/19/2010
- imaxfli I'm a Fan of imaxfli 3 fans permalink

Many of these "cults' receive welfare...every mom gets $$$ for as many kids as they have......pretty nice way to live, get $1000 check every month...have 5 wives..that's $5,000/month...easy to live simply and rape little girls on that!

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 11:02 PM on 4/18/2010
- Gasparilla I'm a Fan of Gasparilla 57 fans permalink

I remember when they did the raid on that compound and some of the kids were taken to foster homes. I was reading comments from one of the mothers because the kids were given shorts and t shirts to wear and what a sin it was that their bare arms and legs were seen. Of course, fifty year old men doing thirteen year olds is fine and dandy.

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 04:55 PM on 4/17/2010
- KellyRyan I'm a Fan of KellyRyan 26 fans permalink

I'm pleased to see a film of this type produced. Amy Berg's award winning film on a pedophillac priest was the first of what I had hoped would signal the beginning of similar documentary's.

Consider it on my viewing list.

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 11:16 AM on 4/17/2010
- images I'm a Fan of images permalink

I'm thrilled to hear that this movie is out which really talks about the challenges of tackling the insidious crimes and abuses which are associated with polygamy. Laurie Allen's "Banking on Heaven" was a compelling expose of the many things wrong with theset cults - I can't wait to see this movie.

I live in Colorado where the FLDS now own more property than in any other state, and unlike AZ, UT, NV & TX, no one here who is remotely high profile will step up to say these crimes and abuses must stop, that we will not tolerate it in Colorado. Through the raid of YFZ and the subsequent FIVE convictions (as of today) Texas has shown that you "Don't Mess with Texas." So now the FLDS have moved to Colorado to continue their abuse of women and children and it is next to impossible to get past the "live and let live" mentality (which is really "let me live my life and not have to acknowledge or deal with the abuse, the crime, the human trafficking in my own backyard - it's too ugly to talk about at parties." ) Warren Jeffs hid out in South Central Colorado much of the time while he was on the lam, now they live in over 6 remote counties of Colorado, and our elected officials, prosecutors, legislators and law enforcement are doing nothing.

Where are you, Colorado? I love you and it's past time to wake up!

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 05:19 PM on 4/16/2010

Thank you so much for making this movie. I live in Utah and it's a travesty that women who want to get out have to deal an overwhelmingly LDS-run state government that, for the most part, is very unsupportive There are so many woman and boys and girls who are trapped and need safe houses and economic support in order to escape. There are LDS people who want to help, but there are many who fear it would bring bad publicity to the church and don't want to talk about this issue, let alone offer any real help to these women and children.

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 03:05 PM on 4/16/2010
- Tresco I'm a Fan of Tresco 14 fans permalink

Paranoia is a terrible thing. I have yet to meet any member of the LDS church who has anything nice to say about "poligs". As for Utah being "LDS run", I've bought beer in SLC on a Sunday. Did the church get 10% of that? I don't think so. I think the Masons or HAARP probably had more to do with it.

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 03:30 PM on 4/16/2010

Can't buy beer on Sunday where I live in Utah, can't buy a bottle opener at the freaking state liquor store because it's illegal. :P SLC is the evil big city of sin to most LDS folk.

Of course they have nothing nice to say, it makes them look bad because the 'poligs' are being true to the teachings of Joseph Smith. The ones who've been arrested for child abuse aren't doing anything different than what he or Brigham Young did when they were alive.

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 04:25 PM on 4/17/2010

Sounds like a facinating movie...definitely will check this out

    Reply     Favorite     Flag as abusive Posted 02:54 PM on 4/16/2010

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