FARMS Documentary Premieres in Washington DC
Golden Road: The Ancient Incense Trail, a new FARMS documentary about the legendary route used by Arabia's incense traders, premiered at the Washington DC Temple Visitors' Center on 5 November 2005 to a group of foreign and U.S. dignitaries.
The film is about the people and places that shaped one of the most important economic highways in the ancient world. It offers a firsthand look at the trade, politics, and diplomacy associated with the trail that brought riches to those daring and entrepreneurial enough to confront the treacherous Arabian desert, the threat of marauders, and the plodding pace of desert caravans.
Directed by acclaimed Latter-day Saint filmmaker Peter Johnson, the documentary is a joint production of FARMS and Timpanogos Entertainment. It was filmed on location in Oman, Yemen, Jordan, and Israel and rests on the most recent scholarship.
Golden Road offers a context for Journey of Faith, a similar documentary exploring the route that Latter-day Saint scholars believe Lehi and his family took as they journeyed from Jerusalem to the New World. The two films were produced at the same time and share some footage of Middle Eastern scenes and interviews with scholars.
"The film is set against the spectacular backdrop of Arabia," said S. Kent Brown, executive producer and academic director of the film. "More than any other attempt, it succeeds at giving audiences access to this area. It brings people inside this trek across an ancient trail."
Representatives from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, and Syria attended the premiere, and their response to the film was very positive. At an opening reception, the guests viewed a display of books published by Brigham Young University's Middle Eastern Text Initiative (METI, also part of the Maxwell Institute) and listened to remarks by Sandra Rogers, international vice president of BYU, Peter Johnson, and S. Kent Brown.
"The intent of the premiere was to introduce the film to representatives of Middle Eastern countries, and in a sense to say to them that this is part of their story," said Brown. All guests, as well as foreign government agencies, received a DVD of the documentary and were granted legal rights to show the film in their respective countries.
Among the 351 guests in attendance were His Excellency Imad Moustapha, Ambassador of Syria to the United States; H. E. Hussein Hassouna, Ambassador of the League of Arab States; H. E. Hunaina Al-Mugheiry, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman; Dr. Walid Abdelnasser, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Egypt; Mr. Abdelkader Hamdad, Counselor of the Congressional Liaison of Algeria; Senator Robert F. Bennett of Utah; Senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon; Mrs. Merilyn Phillips Hodgson, President of the American Foundation for the Study of Man; and Mr. L. Ralph Mecham, Director of the Administrative Offices of the U.S. Courts.
Plans are under way to air Golden Road in the United States in the near future.