‘The Saratov Approach’ fills every seat in special screening

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Garrett Batty directing "The Saratov Approach" during filming. (Photo courtesy of Garret Batty.)
Garrett Batty directing “The Saratov Approach” during filming. (Photo courtesy of Garret Batty.)

A special free screening of “The Saratov Approach,” a new LDS film, filled the Varsity Theatre to capacity Wednesday night. Another showing occurred the same night, with the same results, at the Cinemark theater at the University Mall in Orem.

The movie tells a heartfelt and true tale of two kidnapped missionaries serving in Saratov, Russia, in 1998. Elements of spirituality and hope were brought to a situation that would have otherwise seemed hopeless through the film.

The Varsity Theater was filled to capacity last Wednesday night. Another showing occurred the same night, with the same results, at the Cinemark theater located at the University Mall in Orem.

A number of students present gave the movie rave reviews following the screening.

Cecelia Matos, 18, a pre-management major from Arlington, Va., decided to attend the screening after seeing an ad in the Provo community.

“I think it was very well-made,” Matos said. “I would definitely recommend it. I liked that it was authentic (and that) there wasn’t anything changed from the actual story.”

Though LDS themes are prevalent in the movie, it strayed from traditional LDS cinematic elements. This was not “The Best Two Years 2,” or the average missionary movie.

The movie broke the mold of the stereotypical LDS films, according to Hannah Seipert, 18, a computer engineering major from Cheyenne.

The Saratov Approach wooed audiences with intense action sequences as well as an optimistic spiritual message. (Photo by: Garrett Batty)
“The Saratov Approach” wooed audiences with intense action sequences as well as an optimistic spiritual message. (Photo by courtesy of Garrett Batty)

“It was kind of scary and also refreshing,” Seipert said. “It was just a really fantastic film, (and) I would absolutely recommend it to my friends.

During moments of harsh tension, the movie did an exceptional job incorporating elements of humor to alleviate the stress, though comedy was clearly not the movie’s focus.

The dark cinematography with an amateuresque filming style made the movie more realistic and emotionally grasping.

Writer and director Garrett Batty said his goal in creating the movie was to clear up misinterpretations people have placed on the LDS missionaries as well as the mother behind every missionary.

“For a mother to send her son or daughter into a mission is an incredible leap of faith and I felt like we had not seen that type of movie,” Batty said. “I also feel like Mormon missionaries are completely misrepresented in the media.”

The movie targets more than just the Utah LDS population. Though there are gospel-centered themes, the production team did a great job keeping the film in coordination with the actual events, complete with realistic news clips and telephone audio.

The movie will officially open in select theaters on Oct. 9.

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