April 19-29, 2018

Father’s Kingdom

Synopsis

Father Divine was born in poverty, the son of emancipated slaves. At his peak, he was one of America’s most controversial religious leaders. His movement, dedicated to integration and communal living, was an innovator in desegregating neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and the ballot box in the 1930s and 40s, and he commanded hundreds of properties and businesses, all funded by the work of his thousands of followers. But scandal, suspicion, and racism led to clashes with the law. Once a celebrity ahead of his time in fighting for civil rights, he has largely been written out of history because of the audacity of his religious claims and doubts about his motives.

Today, Father’s few remaining followers live as a communal family on a magnificent estate outside Philadelphia. As time and goes on, they struggle to preserve Father’s legacy. Through unprecedented access to this reclusive community, the film explores the line between faith and fanaticism, and between a religion and a cult.

Screenings