THE RETURN OF ELDER PINGREE - MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED MORMON
Film poster for "The Return of Elder Pingree - Memoir of A Departed Mormon" with man walking in the middle of the road with cars.
THE RETURN OF ELDER PINGREE - MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED MORMON
Film poster for "The Return of Elder Pingree - Memoir of A Departed Mormon" with man walking in the middle of the road with cars.
A lapsed Mormon retraces the steps he took 25 years ago in Guatemala as a devout missionary to search for the people who once trusted him with their religious faith

THE RETURN OF ELDER PINGREE - MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED MORMON

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GRAND JURY PRIZE - Lonely Seal International Film Festival | OFFICIAL SELECTION - HOT DOCS Doc Shop | "RECOMMENDED" - Educational Media Reviews Online

Spanish Language • Anthropology • Social Studies • Religion and Spirituality • International Studies • Christian/Catholic Studies • Biographies • Archival • Mental Health • Sociology

Date of Completion: 2020 | Run Time: 84 minutes​​ | Language: English and Spanish with English, Spanish, and Italian subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript & Study Guide | Director: Geoff Pingree | Producer: Geoff Pingree

Lapsed Mormon Geoff Pingree retraces the steps he took twenty-five years earlier in Guatemala as devout missionary 'Elder Pingree'. Combining contemporary footage with a wealth of archival material–35mm slides, journal entries, letters, and audiotapes–THE RETURN OF ELDER PINGREE pairs the young Elder Pingree's earlier, single-minded journey with the older Geoff Pingree's ambivalent return to Guatemala as he searches for the people who once trusted him with their religious faith, attempts to understand the violent and unsettling political conditions of which he was ignorant as a regimented missionary, and grapples with the basic human dilemma of how one might do good in the world.

While Elder Pingree was certain he was preaching the truth and doing the Lord’s work, Geoff Pingree struggles to understand why he left the Mormon Church just four years after his mission, and he questions his own motives for helping other people. In tracing Elder Pingree’s path and seeking out his converts, Geoff Pingree aims to square old convictions with new ones, to make sense of once-sacred rituals in which he himself can no longer participate. In returning to Guatemala, he hopes to confront a missionary past that is both meaningful and troubling. THE RETURN OF ELDER PINGREE examines a universal coming-of-age struggle for self-knowledge and self-acceptance. In exploring what happens to human relationships as time passes and people’s hearts and minds change, it poses crucial questions about how to make sense of and take responsibility for our influence on others.

"[The Return of Elder Pingree] shows that however swift coming-of-age may or may not be, coming to terms with one’s youth can take years, even decades."
Oberlin Alumni Magazine Winter 2020 | Joshua Sperling, Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and Creative Writing

"Recommended"
Alexander Rolfe, Technical Services Librarian, George Fox University | Educational Media Reviews Online

"A deep and powerful watch. Highly Recommended."
S.J. Portelli for The Sound View

"I found the film to be a poignant and illuminating travelogue, a visit to the strange planet of a life once led, long ago. Though it's a specific personal story, it probes universal themes like the mysteries of memory, the complexities of good intentions, the impact we make on others, and the stories we tell ourselves. It’s a film full of questions, reunions and heartache that left me thinking deeply about innocence and awakening, and how we make peace with the knotty truth of who we are."
Christine Murray, Producer, Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer