Forget the local cineplex. Mormon movies rarely make it there and if they do they are in the theater so short a time that you dare not leave your seat for popcorn or the film won't be there when you get back. Actually, I'm hopeful about the niche Mormon market for mainstream theater releases, but distribution is limited, as are titles coming out. What about YouTube? Ah, that great melting pot of digital culture. Like the apocrypha, there are some worthy nuggets amid the anti-Mormon films and digital dross. But you might try these alternatives, too. It's a mixed bag, to be sure, but there are more outlets for Mormon films and videos than you might have thought...
BYU Student Films on BYU-TV
The official BYU satellite/cable channel is rapidly expanding its audience and its programming. Some Fifth Wave Mormon cinema has been broadcast (The Best Two Years, for example). But check out the student films now being featured in the First Look series (see my previous post). Don't get BYU-TV? Click to http://byu.tv and watch the last month's offerings for free through streaming video.
Official Church Videos at LDS.org (newsroom.lds.org)
Though unnecessarily hard to find, one can view a few official church videos online, including The World Report (direct link here), a tribute film to the late President Gordon B. Hinckley, and a new series of eight videos featuring Elder M. Russell Ballard answering common questions (such as whether Mormons are Christians).
"Fit for the Kingdom" Documentaries
These short documentary films about everyday Mormons have an unbeatable authenticity. Conceived and produced by BYU film professor Dean Duncan, they are available for free online at http://fitforthekingdom.byu.edu. I find "Ramona" (about a Mormon housewife) heartwarming, and "Rusty" (about a weightlifter-poet unafraid of testifying of his faith) compelling.
- Mormon WebTV
See Karen Lee's review at Mormon Renaissance of the great variety of short Mormon films emerging on a possible Mormon YouTube: MormonWebTV. I rather liked the Visiting Teaching Movie, though wondered about the new proselyting tactics demonstrated on CTR Wars.
- Mormon Video Podcasts
Available via iTunes and on their own websites, LDS-themed video podcasts are not as plentiful as audio podcasts, nor have any strong trends emerged. They range from being excerpts of commercial features/documentaries (such as American Mormon Podcast) to film reviews, interviews, and slice-of-life (pictured is a shot from an Elders Quorum pinewood derby featured on MormonCast). Here are a few:
-American Mormon video podcast
-BYU Broadcasting (recent videos and sports archive)
-"If Ye Are Prepared" Continuous Conference videos
A commercial site where you can buy and download recent Mormon theatrical releases as well as films from the LDS Film Festival.
Home Movies Online!
How could I not mention this? Like others, Mormons are sharing the simple joys of family life with more than just grandparents. Here are a couple of cute samples--and yes! one of them is my kid! (the swordsman):
--Re-enacting The Princess Bride with a two-year old
--Awesome costume, peacock baby at ward activity
Have I overlooked an outlet? Let me know!