God Willing

The leader of an American religious sect preaches a strict path to salvation, and some family members must try to extricate loved ones from it.

Film Signature Image
Premiere Date
April 2, 2011
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Evangeline E. Griego

Evangeline Griego is a veteran independent filmmaker, director, and media activist who made her feature-ength documentary directorial debut with the film God Willing. Griego is at work on the independent feature narrative, Sweet Old World and the feature documentary Revolution & Kung Fu slated to be co-directed with Renee Tajima-Pena. Show more Previously, Griego produced Sir! No Sir! with David Zeiger which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. She is the producer of the award-wining documentary Calavera Highway, directed by Renee Tajima-Peña. Griego's company, About Time Productions, in association with Red Envelope Entertainment (Netflix) and 212Berlin Films, produced the documentary Chevolution about the iconic image of Che Guevara. As director she completed the Breathless in LA segment of the seven-part environmental series, Sierra Club Chronicles (Sundance Channel) with Executive Producer Robert Greenwald. She also directed the award-winning Paño Arte: Images from Inside, and the bilingual documentary Border Visions/Visiones Fronterizos funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both films were broadcast on PBS. Her other documentary credits include segment co-producer for the acclaimed PBS series The New Americans (Kartemquin Films); line producer on My Journey Home (Winner of the 2004 Cine Golden Eagle Award), and supervising producer of Art Works ( J. Paul Getty Trust). Griego is a founder of the Silver Lake Film Festival in Los Angeles and is a member of the board of directors of NALIP, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. Show less

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The Film

God Willing is a powerful exploration of a 35-year-old American religious sect known as “The Church” or “The Brotherhood.” It also outlines the struggles of families whose children turn away from them to become “Brothers” and “Sisters” in the group, renouncing their past lives and the world — often without ever turning back. Founded in 1971 by shadowy messianic figure Jim Roberts, the group has survived for decades as a separatist society that preaches a strict path to salvation, proselytizes for new members, adheres to strict ascetic values, subsists on discarded food and refuse, and shuttles its members from town to town, often on the run from concerned parents and family members who try to see or communicate with their children.

This documentary offers an inside look at the group, offering searing testimonials from both family members and former members of The Church. The film details the appeal of Roberts’s message to the sincere spiritual needs of young people, and the struggle that some of them face with fellow members and themselves when they find little more comfort in the fold than they had in their previous lives. It also grippingly presents the anguish of parents and other loved ones who grapple with the urge to pursue and rescue their children, and the psychological, emotional and tactical impediments that so often get in the way of reconciliation. Extensive surveillance footage of Brothers and Sisters and rare, candid on-camera encounters further enhance this examination of families torn asunder, belief systems at war, and the perilous balance of futility and hope.