SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – A Bay Area filmmaker captured the delicate family struggle that happens when some family members get out of a cult while their parents stay in.
“Blessed Child,” is a film by director Cara Jones, now playing in San Francisco and streaming in more than a dozen countries.
Jones begins the film with a striking scene: a 1995 mass wedding in South Korea. Among the thousands of couples is Jones herself, 20-years-old at the time, getting married to a man she had only recently met.
Arranged weddings were a common practice in Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, a group widely considered a cult. The followers were nicknamed the “Moonies.”
The Jones family were devout followers and Cara’s parents were early leaders in the church. She embraced the nuptials at first.
“There is an excitement to it, but I remember feeling some of the earliest seeds of doubt as I held the hand of a man I met just a month before,” Jones told KPIX5.
Jones has long since divorced the young man and left the church. She graduated from Princeton University, became a TV reporter, then quit her job to spend a year traveling the world. She has since remarried and now lives in Oakland where she runs a film company called “Storytellers for Good” which focuses on telling good news stories.
But the film focuses on her relationship with her immediate family, in particular how her parents’ continued involvement in the church created a rift between them and members of the family who left. That strain has nagged at Jones and some of her siblings for years.
Cara’s brother Bow Jones, the cinematographer of the film, revealed he is gay and struggles with the fact that his parents continue to embrace a church that is stridently anti-gay.
In the documentary, Jones showed how she and some of her siblings feel their parents have often chosen the church over their own children. She musters the strength to resolve that tension by asking her parents tough questions. It’s the theme of the film.
“The whole time I was making the film, I can’t tell you how many times I lost sleep,” Jones said. “I had to become a different person. I had to speak more honestly to my parents than I ever have in my whole life and the film became an invitation for me to do that in a way that I couldn’t do at a Christmas dinner.”
“Blessed Child” is playing at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco through a virtual online service. It is also available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.