COMPELLING, TIMELY DOCUMENTARY "FALL FROM GRACE" PREMIERES ON SHOWTIME TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4
The First In-Depth Feature Film Detailing Pastor Fred Phelps' Controversial Ministry And the Radical Members of His Westboro Baptist Church
LOS ANGELES, CA - (November 14, 2007) - On the heels of the recent U.S. District Court decision to award a grieving family of an Iraq War veteran nearly $11 million in damages following Westboro Baptist Church's controversial demonstration outside of their son's funeral, SHOWTIME will premiere FALL FROM GRACE, the first feature documentary to explore the radical ministry of Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. The 70-minute film will make its world television premiere on Tuesday, December 4 at 10 PM ET/PT.
In a first-ever verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church, a jury declared it liable for invading the privacy of as well as intentionally causing emotional distress to a Baltimore family while they mourned the loss of their son killed while serving in Iraq. Outside the funeral, Phelps' followers waved anti-gay signs preaching their belief that military deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuals and specifically, for allowing homosexuals to serve in the military. The Snyder family will receive nearly $11 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
Phelps, a disbarred lawyer, founded the contentious Church fifty years ago. It is a small group comprised mostly of Phelps' family members, but their hatred is prolific. Based in Topeka, Kansas the Westboro Baptist Church has branded its hatred for homosexuality on their website and across the tens of thousands of demonstrations they have staged over the last fifteen years. Phelps' followers are determined to spread one key message: America is doomed because it has tolerated homosexuality and has allowed it to thrive.
"The group believes that anything tragic that occurs to this country - be it 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, or the deaths of soldiers in Iraq - all of these things are examples of God's vengeance against a nation that has tolerated homosexuality for too long and has persecuted the members of Westboro Baptist Church for delivering their hate-filled message," says filmmaker K. Ryan Jones.
Members of the Church picket daily in the city of Topeka and recently, due to the war in Iraq, travel across the country using military funerals - such as the Snyder's - as a venue to preach their beliefs. They were also at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was killed for being homosexual.
Directed by first-time filmmaker K. Ryan Jones, FALL FROM GRACE features unprecedented access into the world of Pastor Phelps and his followers including interviews with Phelps, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka city leaders and officials, ministers, theologians, and two of Pastor Phelps' adult children who have chosen to leave the Church and the family.
FALL FROM GRACE began as an assignment for Jones' film studies class at the University of Kansas. One year later, the footage flourished into a full-length feature film documentary. Not only is this his first feature length project, it is also his first foray into the documentary genre. Jones served as director, cinematographer, writer, editor and producer. The film is executive produced by Liz Manne, co-founder of New York-based independent film and TV production company Duopoly.
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