Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten
Sons of Perdition
In discussing the nature of faith with Boyd K. Packer, Harold B. Lee once said, “You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.” Documentary filmmaking is frequently an act of faith, often motivated far more by compassion, the hunger for knowledge and an impulse to act on the doctrinal injunction that “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warned his neighbor,” than by any artistic or commercial ambitions. That explains in part why The Association for Mormon Letters chooses to recognize Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten for their extraordinary film Sons of Perdition.
Few Latter-day Saints — few people of any caste or creed living outside southwestern Utah — are likely to know about the plight of the teenage runaways and exiles from the Hildale/Colorado City polygamous enclave formerly presided over by Warren Jeffs. Chased out of their childhood homes in some cases, and fleeing from them in others, these disarmingly young men and women face a difficult process of integration into a society as befuddled by them as they are by it. Sons of Perdition may not alter their uncertain future directly. It tells their story powerfully and honestly, however, leading viewers to the edge of the familiar and a few steps into the darkness, inviting viewers to look for a light that shows the way before them. It's a remarkable voice of warning that could touch the hearts of neighbors equipped to make a difference, and if recognition by the AML convinces a few more people to seek it out, then we'll consider our respect and admiration well bestowed.