SCR Michèle Wannaz
CAM Kirsten Johnson, Claudia Raschke
ED Sabine Krayenbühl
MUS Adrian Frutiger
PROD CO Ican Films GmbH
What little girl doesn’t grow up dreaming of attending a Purity Ball: a fairy-tale celebration that sees her don an immaculate gown, hang from her father’s arm and vow absolute celibacy until marriage? Created by Randy and Lisa Wilson in 1998, these elaborate (and unnerving) father-daughter formal events are now staged in 48 US states, with one-in-eight American girls taking a purity oath.
Visiting the Wilsons over the course of two years, documentarian Mirjam von Arx reveals them to be devotees of rituals: be it Randy’s verbose blessings, son Logan’s sword-and-scripture "manhood ceremony" or daughter Jordyn’s increasingly despondent video diaries. As her affirmations about "saying no for the greater yes" cede from righteous to rote, Jordyn emerges as a tragic figure. Ultimately, this objective and measured examination of the virtues of abstinence supplies Evangelical Christians with just enough rope with which to hang themselves…
"Von Arx manages to capture moments of pure gold—manufactured "heartfelt" confessions of familial love whose lack of spontaneity is called out by a particularly sassy daughter, or the revelation from the twenty-something daughter (who’s desperately still waiting for her husband to appear) that she didn’t go to college because it would be a "waste of money" since she just wants to be a wife and mother. If it wasn’t so infuriatingly real, the film would make for great comedy."—Basil Tsiokos, Indiewire