SPRINGDALE, Utah -- A documentary film investigating the actions of FLDS Church Leader Warren Jeffs made its southern Utah premiere Friday night, and those involved in the film said they hope it raises awareness of the alleged illegal activity going on in Hildale and Colorado City along the Utah-Arizona border.
Hundreds of people gathered in Springdale to see the telling documentary film. It’s called “Prophet’s Prey”, and the film’s principal storyteller, Sam Brower, said he hopes it inspires others to take action for a community he says is suffering.
“We need to stop Warren S. Jeffs from destroying families," a voice says during the documentary film.
“Prophet’s Prey” has already been shown at all over the world, and now it has come to southern Utah.
Private Investigator Sam Brower is one of those behind the film, and he said showing it in southern Utah gives special meaning.
“The people here are the ones that are involved,” Brower said. “The people here are the ones who had the guts and courage to come out and talk about it.”
The film chronicles the 10-year investigation into the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints and their leader, Warren Jeffs. The film alleges illegal crimes, such as child sexual abuse.
“When he asked me to marry him at 16, I honestly believed that's what God wanted,” one of Jeff’s alleged victims says in the film.
The movie is being shown as part of DOCUTAH, and it is already stirring up strong emotions from viewers. Film festival directors say the movie is a stunning look into the actions of a community less than 50 miles from their own homes.
“He sees the merit of shining the light on this horrendous travesty of social injustice that has been going on for years and years,” said Phil Tuckett, Executive Director of DOCUTAH.
Many in the audience include those who have left or were kicked out of the FLDS community. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said he hopes the awareness will inspire them to take action and be part of the lawsuits the state is pursuing against FLDS leaders in Short Creek.
“We really can’t prosecute cases unless we have the evidence, unless we have the witnesses,” Reyes said. “And that has probably been the greatest stumbling block over the last many decades.”
The film will be shown two other times this weekend at the DOCUTAH festival. Brower hopes to keep the film going, and he says it's not meant to polarize or trivialize the FLDS faith, but rather bring them together and expose that alleged corruption.
For more information about the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival, visit their website.