SALT LAKE CITY — A new version of the documentary “Meet the Mormons” was released on Saturday, July 16 for a screening at Temple Square. “Meet the Mormons: New Faces/New Stories” features three new stories that will be added to the original six segments released in 2014.
The movie will play exclusively in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater and at select temple visitors centers by request starting in August.
“Meet the Mormons: New Faces/New Stories” director Blair Treu explained that they released the three new stories because he felt that the documentary needed to be freshened up with new faces and stories.
“They’re brand new stories crafted in the same way as the original work,” Treu said.
Each of the original six segments have been updated with additional footage to allow them to be featured individually. The new “Meet the Mormons” includes three new stories that feature “The Horseman,” “The Entertainers” and “The Artist.”
“The Horseman” represents the Wadman family in Morgan, Utah. Jeff Wadman works as a horse tamer and cattle rancher, while his wife, Emily, is a nurse and a mom. The Wadmans were filmed for the first “Meet the Mormons,” but were not featured because the director felt there was an element missing from the story. Once the Wadmans had their first son, Branson, they knew that talking about families was the missing piece to the first film.
The Wadmans believe that the family unit is a very important part of their lives, especially with the birth of their son.
“We were married three years before we had Branson and we can’t remember that life. We cannot remember what life was like without him,” Jeff Wadman said.
Emily Wadman said she is blessed to have her son and that she sees him as a blessing from God.
“Every single time I’m with Branson, he learns a new word or can throw the ball farther, (or) ride his little tricycle, I think, ‘This is what (God) is talking about, this is the joy he’s referring to,” she said.
The Kawamitsu family are “The Entertainers” — musicians and performers in Tokyo known for their band “bless4.” The band has a reputation for being family centered.
The youngest of the Kawamitsu family, Aiki, is currently finishing his mission in Los Angeles. Letting Aiki go on a mission was not easy for the band, but the Kawamitsus said they have been immensely blessed by the experience.
“He writes us emails weekly … We can feel his growth and are inspired ourselves to grow and become better people,” Akino Kawamitsu said.
Akino also said Aiki’s mission has helped him gain greater appreciation for his family.
“There’s many different blessings. We can’t name every single one of them or else it would take the rest of the year,” said Aiki’s oldest sibling Akashi.
Giovanna “The Artist” Nezhati is a mother of three living in Las Vegas. Her story was a special feature in the DVD release of “Meet the Mormons,” but has been updated and turned into its own segment for the new movie.
Nezhati organized the event “Dinner On Us,” which provides fresh, restaurant-quality food for homeless residents in Las Vegas once a month. Nezhati was a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Italy and served her mission in Rome.
“Dinner On Us” has been operating for five years. Each month features a new restaurant theme.
“One time we featured Mexican culture, and another one Hawaiian, and Japanese. We had a Chinese New Year; it was amazing with the dragon dancers.” Nezhati said. “It’s like a wedding (feast) every time; a fiesta, a celebration every time.”
For Treu, finding the right people to feature in “Meet the Mormons” is hard. But Treu makes it happen by finding online stories and getting in touch with friends and other members of the church.
When Nezhati got a phone call about “Meet the Mormons,” she thought they had the wrong number because she was the only LDS member in her family. For the Kawamitsus, it felt strange to be filmed at first, but they knew it was the right thing to do.
“We like telling our beliefs, but we didn’t just say, ‘Oh, yes’; we thought about it,” Akashi Kawamitsu said. “There is a lot of responsibility for what you say and what you do.”
According to Mormon Newsroom, no tickets are required to see the films. Legacy Theater showtimes can be found on its website. Showtimes may change based on demand. In the other visitors centers, the stories will be shown upon request.