#SUNDANCE: “THE MISSION”
By Amanda Gilmore
Each year, thousands of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, are sent across the world to preach their gospel. The Mission follows four American teens who leave their religious communities and journey to one of the most non-religious countries in Europe: Finland.
Director Tania Anderson, in her first feature-length Documentary, brings us behind the nametags and into the lives of those who knock on our doors and stop us on the street. We are given access to the lives of four missionaries: Elder Pauole, Elder Davis, Sister Field and Sister Bills. We watch as they embark on this emotionally straining journey with limited contact with their families and facing constant rejection. Thus, creating an understanding and connection to these missionaries.
Through their two-year journey in Finland, a portrait is shown of two worlds colliding. A highlight is when Sister Bills is brought into a Finnish family’s home. The family listens with patience as Sister Bills explains her faith. They respectfully question certain aspects and Sister Bills calmly answers. Anderson has captured a moment where two opposing views come head-to-head. However, they listen and speak with respect and patience. In a time when our polarized society is quick to speak but refuses to listen this moment feels special.
Overall, The Mission gives us an in-depth, empathetic look into a group commonly judged from the outside. As we watch the missionaries come of age, a touching examination of the human condition. In the end, we’re all searching for a purpose within our shared human experience.
The Mission screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 24 at 4PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 26 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)