Sunstone is thrilled to host the world premiere of a new film, Peculiarities. Initially written by Brigham Young University professor Eric Samuelsen as a play, the film version has emerged as a true cooperative venture by the writer, director, crew, and cast, who have all worked on the film for free. Of Peculiarities’s origins, Samuelsen says: Ever since I began teaching at BYU in 1992, I’ve become a bemused student of Mormon culture, intrigued by its idiosyncrasies and oddities and inconsistencies. Every so often, my observations have resulted in plays: Gadianton, The Way We’re Wired, Without Romance, and others. peculiarities is the result of conversations I’ve had with the LDS young people I teach and interact with. Mormon culture tends to preach a “letter of the law” approach to moral questions, and especially in regards to issues of sexual morality. And so I became aware of some of the peculiar ways in which moral rigidity and sexuality collide in our culture. It occurred to me that combining all these stories and practices into a single play might make for a compelling evening in the theatre. I was especially taken with the idea of presenting this material naturalistically, simply showing the stories of these flawed human characters without apology, explanation, or mediation, presuming a morally centered audience and allowing that audience the space to reach their own conclusions about the issues raised by these stories. And so, sometime around 1999, I wrote Peculiarities. The film features six separate stories, exploring difficult topics not to glorify poor decisions nor to make fun of the moral attitudes and inconsistencies that lead the characters to make those decisions, but to illustrate and better understand their consequences. Noted LDS storyteller Orson Scott Card says, “Mormons can no more live by empty, meaningless art that pretends to be moral because it is devoid of any relation to reality than the rest of the world can live by art that scoffs at morality and presents a view of life as a meaningless, pointless, undirected accident.” Peculiarities strives to be moral art that is at the same time effective as art.

Eric Samuelsen