On this edition of Mormon Stories Podcast, we are honored to interview award-winning documentary filmmaker Helen Whitney about her life as a documentary filmmaker, her work on the 2007 PBS documentary “The Mormons,” and her new film about mortality entitled “Into the Night.”
In Part 1, we discover that throughout her career, she has maintained a deep interest in spiritual journeys, which she first explored with her documentary The Monastery, a 90-minute ABC special, about the oldest Trappist community in the Americas. Helen followed this film with a three-hour Frontline documentary for PBS, John Paul II: The Millennial Pope, and in 2007 she produced The Mormons, a four-hour PBS series that explored the richness, complexities and controversies surrounding the Mormon faith. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, she produced Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, a two-hour documentary that examined how religious belief – and unbelief – of Americans was challenged and altered by the spiritual aftershocks of 9/11.
In Part 2, Helen shares intimate details about the making of the highly-impactful documentary “The Mormons.” She also provides her non-Mormon perspective of the faith and many anecdotal interactions with LDS General Authorities including Boyd K. Packer, Jeffrey R. Holland, and Gordon B. Hinckley (among others) that our listeners will find very intriguing.
In Part 3, we learn about her new project, Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death, a two-hour feature documentary featuring fascinating, unexpected voices from various walks of life: old and young, believers and nonbelievers, the dying and the healthy, well known and obscure. However varied their backgrounds, all are unified by their uncommon eloquence and intelligence, and most important by their dramatic experience of death. Into the Night is a two-part documentary, with Part 1 available now for streaming on Hulu and for rent on Youtube.