Sons of Perdition (film)

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Sons of Perdition
Sons of Perdition.jpg
Directed by Tyler Measom, Jennilyn Merten
Produced by Julie Golden
Tyler Measom
Jennilyn Merten
Starring Sam Zitting, Joe Broadbent, Bruce Barlow, Sam Brower, Jon Krakauer
Music by Mark Geary
Edited by Jenny Golden
Release date
  • April 24, 2010 (2010-04-24)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Sons of Perdition is a 2010 documentary film featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of teenagers exiled from their families and community by Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church).[1] Sons of Perdition premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 24, 2010, having sold out at the box office within one hour from the time tickets went on sale.[2]


"Sons of perdition" is a term used by some Latter Day Saint denominations, including the FLDS Church, to describe former members who have apostatized from their religion and faith. The term is derogatory and intended to convey unholiness, sin and evil. Within the FLDS Church in the border towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, under the severe rule of prophet Warren Jeffs, hundreds of teenage boys were exiled from their homes and families among the FLDS faithful for infractions such as wearing short-sleeved shirts, listening to music or talking to girls.[3] Whether forced out by church leadership or a deliberate choice to escape the harsh environment, the exiled teenage boys were shunned by their families and community. As a result of their limited education and lifelong insulation from the world apart from their polygamous community, these "Lost Boys" were ill-equipped to manage life on the outside of the church.[4] Many of the youngsters turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with the traumatic separation; others found themselves in trouble with the law.[3]

Directors Tyler Measom and Jennilynn Merten followed these Lost Boys for four years to bring to the film the personal perspective of the exiled boys.[5] As described by one film reviewer:

Sons of Perdition's concentration on Joe, Bruce, and Sam—and, to a lesser extent, their exiled compatriots—is a shrewd one, allowing for a focused examination of the toll wrought by such an upbringing on teens undergoing the process of self-definition. Less a definitive historical account of American polygamy than a study of a very particular strain of post-traumatic stress disorder, Measom and Merten's doc is cautiously inspiring in its snapshot of independence blossoming amidst oppression, heartbreaking in its empathetic portrayal of lost young men permanently scarred by their elders, and infuriating in its clear-sighted depiction of the criminal and emotional horrors perpetrated in the service of religious psychosis.[5]

Measom and Merten found the subject matter appealing in part because of their own experience of having abandoned the Mormon faith they grew up in.[1]


The documentary features three teenage boys, Sam Zitting, Joseph Broadbent, and Bruce Barlow. At the time of filming, all three were living in St. George, Utah, having left the dictates of Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church, whose members resided in the Arizona–Utah twin cities of Colorado City and Hildale (known also as the Crick or Short Creek). The film also features Utah private investigator Sam Brower.[6]


Tribeca Film Institute[edit]

The film received a grant from the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund in 2008.

Tribeca Film Festival 2010[edit]

On April 24, 2010 Sons of Perdition made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere in New York, having been selected from more than 5,000 submissions from 38 countries.[7]

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by actor-director Robert De Niro.[8] On the opening day of the 2010 festival, De Niro named Sons of Perdition as one of his favorites of the festival.[8]

Silverdocs Documentary Festival 2010[edit]

The AFI-Discovery SilverDocs Documentary Film Festival, founded in 2003 by the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel, is a pre-eminent international documentary film festival held annually at the AFI Silver Theater in the Washington, D.C. area.[9]

In 2010, Sons of Perdition was selected from more than two thousand submissions as one of eleven documentary films to compete at the festival's 2010 Sterling U.S. Feature Competition.[10][11] Regarding the quality of documentary submissions in 2010, Silverdocs' artistic director, Sky Sitney, noted, "[W]e received more high-quality submissions than ever before, making it harder than ever to select the films for the 2010 program. This Festival slate represents the very best the documentary form has to offer."[12]

Broadcast acquisition and debut[edit]

Based on the film's success at the Tribeca Film Festival, Sons of Perdition was acquired by the Oprah Winfrey Network and made its broadcast debut in June 2011.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rosanne Colletti (24 April 2010). "The Sons of Perdition in Person". NBC New York. Retrieved 1 May 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ Means, Sean (2010-04-30). "Summer movies: 'Sons of Perdition' profiles FLDS exiles". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  3. ^ a b St Germain, Patrice (1 August 2007). "On Their Own: FLDS exiles learn to cope with life after polygamy". St. George Spectrum. 
  4. ^ "Hundreds of 'Lost Boys' Expelled by Polygamist Community". ABC News. 15 June 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ a b Nick Shager (23 April 2010). "Tribeca Film Festival: Sons of Perdition". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 29 April 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ Jenni Miller (15 April 2010). "Festival Faces". Archived from the original on 19 April 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010.  External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ Rebecca Pahle (10 March 2010). "Tribeca Announces First Films in 2010 Lineup". MovieMaker. Archived from the original on 12 March 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Tribeca Film Festival Shaking up Indie Distribution". New York Times. 20 April 2010. 
  9. ^ "SILVERDOCS Announces Festival Winners". Business Wire. 20 June 2006. 
  10. ^ Brooks, Brian (25 May 2010). "SilverDocs Unveils U.S. and World Competition Films for June Fest". [ Indiewire]. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival Announces Slate". AFI-Discovery SilverDocs Documentary Press Kit. 27 May 2010. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  12. ^ Hazelton, John (25 May 2010). "Silverdocs festival reveals competition line-up". [ Screen Daily]. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  13. ^ Measom, Tyler (December 2011). "Sons of Perdition on DVD". Tribeca Film Institute. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 


External links[edit]