The Wilson Family
Randy Wilson is an attractive, charming and extremely charismatic man. He comes from a deeply religious Evangelist family. Professionally, Randy is the National Field Director for Church Ministries at the Family Research Council, a Christian political organization dedicated to preaching the values of marriage and family through its presence in the media, schools, and in the political arena where it sets out to influence law making (abortion law above all). Randy particularly enjoys teaching and advising ministers on dealing with family issues – including, of course, the virtues of virginity.
Lisa met Randy in her early twenties in a church choir. Since then they have been married for 30 years and have seven children. When she speaks about the love for her family, tears quickly well up in her eyes. At the same time she talks about the hard times she went through: excessive demands of seven children she also home schools and money concerns that come with having such a large family. Lisa wants to help her children develop a healthy self-esteem through their outward appearance. She is the one who equips her daughters with new (secondhand) ball gowns and swamps them with make-up and hair styling tips from childhood on. She is also the one who strongly influenced the appearance of Purity Balls as a princess events. Her daughters should be sexy virgins, not plain Janes.
Lauren is the oldest of the Wilson children. In 2007 she moved to Idaho to live with her husband Brett, a member of the Air Force. She met her husband, who was in training, when she went with her brother Colten to visit the Air Force Academy in 2006. Brett guided the Wilsons around the campus – and Lauren was instantly enamored of him. Today she says that she fell head over heels in love. Of course at the time she did not let anybody know – except God. She earnestly prayed for 40 days for Him to show her the way. And He did just that: after little more than a month, Brett called Randy. Lauren was the first of the Wilson children to wait until after the wedding for not only sex, but also the first kiss – a decision that even her mother Lisa labeled with amusement as “radical.” She and Brett did not even hold hands until after they married because they thought it would distract them from getting to know each other’s heart. But then they were able to do that much more quickly: They knew each other for eight weeks before he proposed. Then they were engaged for six months, five of which Brett was stationed abroad. Lauren’s fate is to follow her husband to whatever the military sends him and then to wait for him for months since he is sent regularly to the front. But as of late she does not have to wait alone: Lauren is the proud mother of two children.
Colten is like a young Randy clone: charming, charismatic and self-confident, through and through a God-fearing golden boy who knows exactly how things are done. On a DVD of some the family rituals that the Wilsons distribute as illustrative material, a fifteen-year- old Colten leads a public prayer. Even back then he spoke and moved exactly like his father. Unlike his sisters, Colten attended a Christian college. And he was not dependent on his father when he married either: on his own initiative he met a girl at college who became his wife in 2009. But Colten and his wife Anna still observed the commitment to abstinence: the first kiss was exchanged at the altar.
Khrystian is the model virgin of the family: beautiful, sexy, self-confident – and overjoyed with her fate. She lives with her husband Chad in Tennessee. Her 31-year-old husband is a deeply religious Christian, unbelievably attractive, charming, with hazelnut colored eyes and a smile that still makes Khrystian weak in the knees. He is gentle; a poet who writes beautiful love poems for her – and at the same time has the power and strength of a real warrior. After all, he is a regular in the military, and has already reached rank of captain. “God led this man into the kitchen of a family we’ve never met,” explains Khrystian, “and on their refrigerator was a photograph of us because someone in the family read our book. And now Chad is my husband. I am happier than I could have ever dared imagine in my fondest dreams. And I had nothing to do with it. I just had to wait until God executed his plan.“ Chad and Krystian’s father emailed each other for a while back and forth. After only six days, Chad asked Randy if he could come by over the weekend to meet Khrystian. Randy agreed and then everything went considerably quickly. Three days after his first visit, Chad asked Randy for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Up until this point, he and Khrystian had spent only four and a half days together.
Jordyn is more of a shy young woman and as the fourth oldest she is next in line to marry, exchanging her father for a husband and thereby lose her virginity. She anxiously awaits this event. “It would be so great if I could marry this year!” she gushes. Asked about her fairy prince, she does not need long to think it over: “He has to love God and my family, of course, because those are the two things are most important to me in life. Then he should be easy on the eyes and be…um…well-behaved.” What does that mean? “Well, he should intuitively behave properly. He should ask my father first if he may meet me. To be honest, if he came directly to me then he wouldn’t have a chance.” In 2010, Jordyn started the SCHOOL OF GRACE, classes and lectures where young women learn how to create lovely environments of welcome and beauty and the basics of etiquette, grace, and hosting.
Ever since Colten moved out Logan is, after his father Randy, the only other man at home. Essentially Logan is a normal pubertarian boy: insecure, awkward, and not really certain what he should do with his suddenly super long arms and legs. Coming out of that is a charming mix of childish shyness and unconvincingly macho behaviour. Logan dreams of a career in the military and the opportunity to face the enemy. Like his older brother, Logan will also go to college and will be able to pick his future bride.
The abundantly self-confident and audacious Kameryn demonstrates, in spite of her innate energy, how to master the rules of behavior perfectly in this family even at a younger age one. She is no longer a child, but a young woman through and through. And right now she is being painstakingly initiated into womanhood. On her thirteenth birthday her mother and sisters showed her how to apply makeup, what she regularly does since then. At fourteen Kameryn celebrated the “Chayil” , her transition from child to woman. A favorite Kameryn statement is: “I don’t need to go to bars or discos. I’ve chosen a high standard for my life. And you can become so mediocre if you’re not careful.”
The little Kaalyn is a darling – impetuous, lively, full of childish innocence, saucy, in short: sweet as sugar. And above all she is, appropriate for her age, honest, direct and very naive. One notices that she has not yet internalized the rules or what one does and does not say in the family, as her siblings have.
At the same time she shows how early the children in this family are piled with rules of virginity – at an age when one does not really know what sex is. So Kaalyn tilts her head, smiles and starts off as if she were reciting a poem: “If a girl dresses sexy, then men want to conquer her. If a girl is mo…mo…” – “modest,” her parents say – , “if a girl is modest, and dresses that way, then men want to protect her.” – “Exactly!” her parents cry out with delight. They stroke Kaalyn on the head and radiate pride, and her siblings nod their heads appreciatively.
Film makers’ biographies
Mirjam von Arx, Director and Producer
Mirjam von Arx, was born 1966 in Weinfelden/TG. After studying at the Ringier School of Journalism, von Arx worked for 18 years as an editor and freelancer for a number of German language magazines. In 1991, she moved to New York and produced the road movie BLUESIANA together with Polo Hofer. In addition to regular contributions to Swiss television, von Arx executed two documentaries for SF and Sat1. In 2001, she moved to London and began filming the documentary BUILDING THE GHERKIN. In 2002, she founded the production company ican films gmbh. In 2003, her first documentary ABXANG was shown in cinemas. In 2005, BUILDING THE GHERKIN (CH, DE, UK) followed. In 2006/7 she produced the documentary SIEBEN MULDEN UND EINE LEICHE for Thomas Haemmerli , shown in cinemas in 2007. The film was awarded the Zurich Film Prize 2007 and was nominated for the Swiss Film Prize 2008. Her documentary SEED WARRIORS was theatrically released in autumn 2010. VIRGIN TALES will be theatrically released in Switzerland in June 2012.
Michèle Wannaz, Author
Michèle Wannaz studied film, journalism, and contemporary German literature in Zurich. Alongside her studies she trained as a script consultant. She worked as film editor for the news magazine Facts, was responsible for conception, casting, and research for the documentary series DIE SPURENSUCHER for arte / zero one film Berlin, and worked as dramaturge for Micha Lewinsky, Markus Imhoof, Xavier Koller, and Pipilotti Rist, among many others. She is currently project director at the W.I.R.E. think tank, where she manages exhibition and book projects, as well as being a member of the Zurich Film Foundation film commission.
Publications: “Dramaturgy in Auteur Film: Narrative Patterns of Social-Realistic Arthouse Cinema” (Schüren, 2009), “Mind the Future: Compendium of Contemporary Trends” (Coauthor, Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2011).
Sabine Krayenbühl, Editor
Sabine Krayenbühl, has worked in both the United States and Europe editing documentaries and features. Her work includes the critically acclaimed documentary MAD HOT BALLROOM, distributed by Paramount Classics and the Oscar-nominated feature length documentary MY ARCHITECT; A SON’S JOURNEY, for which the American Cinema Editors nominated her for an Eddie award in 2004. Other works include the controversial doc THE BRIDGE, PICASSO AND BRAQUE GO TO THE MOVIES on which she collaborated with feature film director Arne Glimcher and established producers Robert Greenhut and Martin Scorsese, and AHEAD OF TIME, about 97 year old journalist-activist Ruth Gruber. Sabine recently finished the theatrical documentary MY REINCARNATION with director/producer Jennifer Fox about the high Tibetan Lama, Choegal Namkai Norbu and his Italian born son Yeshi. The film will open the 2012 POV series on PBS, USA.
Kirsten Johnson, Cinematographer
Kirsten Johnson works as a director and a cinematographer. She recently shot the Sundance 2012 Audience Award winner, THE INVISIBLE WAR. In the last year, as the supervising DP on Abby Disney and Gini Reticker’s series, WOMEN, WAR AND PEACE, she traveled to Colombia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. She shared the 2010 Sundance Documentary Competition Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for THE OATH. She shot the Tribeca Film Festival 2008 Documentary winner, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL. Her cinematography is featured in FAHRENHEIT 9/11, Academy Award-nominated ASYLUM, Emmy-winning LADIES FIRST, and Sundance premiere documentaries, FINDING NORTH, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, AMERICAN STANDOFF, and DERRIDA. A chapter on her work as a cinematographer is featured in the book, THE ART OF THE DOCUMENTARY. She is currently editing a documentary on sight that she shot and directed in Afghanistan. Her previous documentary as a director, DEADLINE, (co-directed with Katy Chevigny), premiered at Sundance in 2004, was broadcast on primetime NBC, and won the Thurgood Marshall Award.
Claudia Raschke, Cinematographer
Award winning cinematographer Claudia Raschke-Robinson has photographed independent feature films and documentaries for over 20 years. She is best known for her smooth hand-held camera work and natural lighting style. Her background training is in dance, martial arts and fine arts. Claudia lives with her husband, who is a personal trainer and football coach and her two children in New York City.
Notable documentaries include Oscar-nominated GOD IS THE BIGGER ELVIS (HBO) Peabody Award winning documentary BLACK MAGIC (ESPN), A SEA CHANGE (Discovery), WHAT’S YOUR POINT, HONEY? (Lifetime), MAD HOT BALLROOM (Paramount), Oscar-nominated MY ARCHITECT (add’l DP), Oscar-nominated SMALL WONDER (add’l DP), Oscar nominated SISTER ROSE’S PASSION (add’l DP) as well as indie features like KISS ME GUIDO, WALKING ON THE SKY and FRAME OF MIND.
Judy Karp, Sound
Judy Karp has travelled around the world recording sound on documentaries and independent feature films for over 30 years. Her credits include Paris is Burning, The War Room, Hotel Terminus and seven feature films with John Sayles. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Jaime Reyes.
Adrian Frutiger, Composer
Born 1971. Studied Set Decoration at the Zurich University of the Arts. Since 1991, Frutiger has composed soundtracks for numerous theatrical and TV productions; in addition he has contributed music to various music concepts, shows, animations and postproduction. He has been honored with 6 Awards for his film compositions.