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It is time, the LDS Church believes, to meet even more Mormons.
On Thursday, the Salt Lake City-based faith provided a preview of its newest short promotional films, "Meet the Mormons: New Faces/New Stories," featuring a horse trainer and his wife in Morgan, Utah, a Tokyo-based singing group, and an Italian convert who launched a homeless service in Las Vegas.
The original "Meet the Mormons" hit the nation's theaters in 2014, showcasing six Latter-day Saints and their families from various cultures and careers a Nepalese engineer and humanitarian, the head football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, a Costa Rican kickboxer, an Atlanta academic counselor, a missionary mom from Utah and Gail Halvorsen, the Beehive State's famous "candy bomber" from the Berlin Airlift in the 1940s.
That movie originally was intended to be viewed at the Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City, writer-director Blair Treu said Thursday, but shifted to paid public viewing after positive responses from non-Mormon focus groups.
Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strongly encouraged members to see the film in their local theaters and to bring their friends hoping to bump the videos into nationwide popularity.
That tactic apparently worked.
The original "Meet the Mormons" ranked among the top 35 highest-grossing documentaries of all time, Treu reported. Unspecified profits went to the Red Cross.
This time around, though, the new 20-minute vignettes along with the earlier stories that have been updated with additional footage will be shown at the Legacy Theater, where they will be rotated about every 30 minutes throughout the day. The films also will be available at English-speaking LDS Church visitor centers.
The project's purpose was not to proselytize or explain church beliefs. Details of the church's teachings can be found elsewhere, Treu said. "We wanted to offer a glimpse of who [Mormons] are. And we wanted it to be very authentic."
The film style remains consistent throughout the nine videos, he said, but the stories reveal much diversity in lifestyle.
Jeff Wadman and his wife, Emily, live on a ranch in Morgan. As a young married couple, they were among those selected for the original "Meet the Mormons" and were filmed at some length in 2012, but were cut in the end.
"Something was missing," they were told.
After their baby son was born, the filmmakers returned to finish the project.
"I hope [viewers] can see," Emily Wadman said Thursday, "the value of the family unit."
God is "in everything and it's up to us to acknowledge his hand," Jeff Wadman added. "We are normal people who believe extraordinary things."
The Kawamitsu siblings two brothers (Aiki and Akashi) and two sisters (Kanasa and Akino) tour the world as the high-energy singing group "bless4." Decades ago, their parents converted separately to Mormonism in Japan and then met at church. They lived for a time in Utah and Arizona until their eldest son, Aiki, prodded them into entertainment in their home country.
They bring their LDS values to their entertainment, the siblings said. They know they represent a little-known faith so they are careful in their choice of clothes and lyrics. They always pray before concerts, they said, and have been told their music is "uplifting and inspirational."
The last of the new stories is about Italy-born artist Giovanna Raccosta Nezhati.
Nezhati was Catholic, then atheist, before joining the LDS Church at 18. She was studying art in Palermo, when she met Mormon missionaries. Two days after having a powerful spiritual experience with prayer, the young artist joined the foreign faith. A couple of years after that, she served an LDS mission in Rome.
Eventually, Nezhati came to the U.S.,where she met and married her non-Mormon husband, Bardia.
They shared many things, she said, but not faith.
"Church is important," she said Thursday, "but marriage and family are more important."
Eventually, the couple moved to Las Vegas, where she launched a rescue mission for the homeless, coordinating hundreds of volunteers to provide meals. That service helped her husband understand her faith and finally join it.
"I loved him anyway," she said, "but we love each other even more now."
All the vignettes feature married couples, but Treu hinted that "Meet the Mormons" could become a regular feature for Legacy.
"It might," he said, "be an ongoing effort."
To see the new films
P The short films from "Meet the Mormons: New Faces/New Stories" will debut Saturday at the Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City. No tickets are required. Visitors can check the theater's website (legacytheater.lds.org) for show times. The vignettes also will be available in English-speaking LDS visitor centers starting in August.