Jim Jones was not your typical self-proclaimed messiah. The man preached love for all races and classes, freedom of speech and socialism through Christianity. In 1978, Jones and more than 900 followers, known as Peoples Temple, moved from California to Guyana. They were going to build the ideal society. Dubbed Jonestown, after Jones himself, it was to be a utopia for the disenfranchised; a place where believers of all races and classes could lead self-sufficient lives as equals, far away from the oppression and immorality of the USA.
Then, on November 18, 1978, it all came crashing down. Within hours, 909 Peoples Temple members were dead, either poisoned or shot by their own hand, or someone else’s. In the fallout, Jonestown has become known as one of the worst cults in modern history. It is an example of how extreme methods of mind control and abuse of power can lead to seemingly incomprehensible acts of violence.
So, how did hundreds of ordinary, rational people attempting to build an ideal society turn to lunacy, mass suicide and murder? What the hell happened in Jonestown? Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, a documentary featuring never before seen archival footage (including footage shot on November 18, 1978), survivor interviews and some of Jones’ sermons, is an attempt to answer these questions.
The film has been getting rave reviews from critics, and frankly, seems too fascinating to miss. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, which is part of Hot Docs’s monthly film series Doc Soup, will premier in Toronto at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W.) on Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. To see the trailer click here and for more info check out Hot Docs. Tickets are $12 and the 9:15 p.m. show is free with a student ID.
On March 13, 2007, VisionTV will be airing the docudrama Jonestown: Paradise Lost at 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. ET.
Photo from Apple Trailers.