Kirtland Docudrama: ‘America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland,’ set to premiere Sept. 24

By Chad Felton, The News-Herald

Karl and Joyce Anderson on set of “America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland,” directed by Russ Holt. Karl served as a historical consultant on the film.

An hour long docudrama is set to debut about the area where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was headquartered from 1831 to 1838, after being formally organized in western New York.

The film, “America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland,” produced by BYUtv, will premiere at 6 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Kirtland LDS Stake Center at 7866 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Willoughby. The event is free and open to the public.

The film, which will also stream live from the BYUtv website, will also include the story of the events surrounding the construction and dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

The docudrama’s director, Russ Holt, believes not many towns have a history compared to Kirtland’s, and he knows there was no better location to air the film.

“It’s very appropriate, as people from all over the United States and Canada uprooted to Kirtland because they wanted to be taught by who they believed to be a man of God,” Holt said, referring to Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism and the Latter-Day Saint movement. “We thought it important to tell this story of the early 1800s. It’s one of the most important stories ever told. That’s why we decided to make this film.”

Holt, who also wrote the film, first came to Kirtland as a college student.

“It was a privilege to come here and film where these great events took place, and I’ve considered it a privilege to visit every time over the years,” he said. “The (Kirtland) Temple itself is a massive building. Filming inside was a unique opportunity. It’s a marvel that it’s still there. The people then were quite poor, and they sacrificed a lot to build it.”

America’s Sacred Ground: Kirtland” was financed by BYUtv and several donors who felt strongly about the project, according to Holt.

“We worked on it for over a year,” he said. “It’s been an exhilarating and inspiring project to conduct the research on the site. We felt it essential to be accurate and tell the story correctly. We are grateful to the Community of Christ, and the many residents who helped us as extras and in other capacities, to make this film a reality.”

Holt and Kirtland historian/consultant Karl Anderson will both speak at the premiere.

The film will then be shown worldwide, on BYUtv, Oct. 1, between general conference sessions from 2 to 4 p.m.

This story has been corrected to show that the docudrama will premiere Saturday Sept. 24, not Sept. 17.

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