Directors/Producers: Helen Whitney
PBS programs "Frontline" and "American Experience" joined forces for the first time in 2007 to present a two-part documentary entitled The Mormons.
The compelling film aired on consecutive nights, the first evening devoted to the history of the church that now counts close to 12 million adherents. The second evening focused on the controversies that have always surrounded the Mormon church.
The film delves deeply into the tumultuous history of Mormonism, from the persecution of a few believers in the 1800s to the growth of a wealthy mainstream church that includes as members politicians such as Mitt Romney, and prominent business leaders and academicians.
The Mormons takes a balanced and well researched approach to Mormon beliefs and the viewer hears in detail from both church elders and skeptics who question the motives of Joseph Smith, the religion's founder, and the authenticity of the "Book of Mormon."
Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer and director Helen Whitney spent three years bringing to life the four-hour documentary. In an article in "The Deseret Morning News," Whitney described her current work. "It is not exhaustive. It is not comprehensive. It is thematic. I have chosen what I felt to be the defining ideas and themes and events in Mormon history that would help outsiders go inside the church. It's not altogether chronological, but roughly so. I hope that most of the stereotypes, ideally, all of them, will be blown away. Because so many of them are just based on ignorance. Ignorance about Mormon history, ignorance about Mormon theology. Ignorance."
Whitney notes that there are more Mormons outside of the U.S. than in this country and hopes that viewing this religion through so many different angles will encourage viewers from throughout the world to contrast and compare belief systems and to re-examine their own.