Filmmaker Katy Scoggin journeys home to the Inland Empire, revisiting her evangelical roots and finding humanity and common ground with her estranged father.

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Katy Scoggin

Katy Scoggin is an independent filmmaker. She co-produced Oscar-winner Citizenfour and other Laura Poitras films, and is a cameraperson on an upcoming Regina Sobel film about trees. Flood has been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, the Gotham, DCTV, MacDowell, Logan Nonfiction, and BAVC. 

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The Film

Katy Scoggin is a filmmaker working on a script about her strained relationship with her father. Faced with writer’s block, she packs her camera and returns home to the Inland Empire of Southern California, where her parents had settled as full-time missionaries before she was born.

She films her father, Marvin, teaching his fourth grade class. To her surprise, he is affable, charismatic, and beloved, while at home he appears isolated as the sole evangelical left in the family. His wife has shifted to a progressive church, and his younger daughter is raising her own children to push back against orthodoxy. Yet, the family remains closely knit and prepares for a move across the country. As the camera rolls, Katy and Marvin delve into their disparate beliefs about heaven, earth, creation, and marriage, and Katy realizes that she can turn away from her father’s beliefs without turning away from him.

When moving day arrives, Katy lingers with Marvin as he bids farewell to the home where he arrived as a passionate, young missionary set on changing the world. On the road, he opens up about his childhood and his own father, who met Marvin’s sense of religious calling with silence. Katy sees that her father’s need for acceptance and support echoes her own. Crossing the country, father and daughter come together, surmounting divides with listening, empathy, humor, and creativity.