Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
NZIFF audiences last saw acclaimed documentarian Amy Berg present a scathing indictment of the American justice system in the Peter Jackson produced West of Memphis. This year Berg returns, with her attention fixed upon yet another institution of profound injustice and maddening impenetrability: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Headed by the maniacal pastor Warren Jeffs – a creepily effective indoctrinator, prolific polygamist and self-proclaimed prophet – the FLDS church is currently host to thousands of devoted followers, holds millions of dollars worth of secluded real estate and a deeply unsettling history of underage marriages and sexual abuse (Jeffs himself has approximately 90 wives).
Employing first-hand testimonies from journalists, private investigators and courageous ex-members of the church, Berg gives a troubling portrait of unchecked influence and a genuinely gripping account of the exhaustive manhunt undergone to capture their tyrannical leader. — JF
“The long, twisty process by which the authorities finally caught up with Jeffs is related here with the breathless, blow-by-blow tension of a thriller… but the lasting power of Prey is its grim insight into the mentality of the deceived and its despairing recognition that spiritual and psychological bondage doesn’t end simply by putting a monster behind bars… Berg isn’t content to give us a figure of exceptional evil; she would rather have us contemplate the deluded, unexceptional humanity that allowed a predator this monstrous to flourish.” — Justin Chang, Variety