For those of us in the Peoples Temple family, watching Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple at the San Francisco International Film Festival was more than an opportunity to see how Stanley Nelson told our story. It also provided us with an excuse for another reunion.
For me, the event proceeded along the way all Peoples Temple events have moved along, of late.
• First, many of us – especially those of us who participated in the project – got our invitations to attend the showing from Firelight Media.
• Second, we immediately notified everyone in our extended PT family. “We” now includes survivors from Guyana and the US, relatives and friends of survivors, film-makers and historians who have been our voices over these years, and friends of friends. “We” now make up a group of about 100 people who are in regular contact with some or all of the others. We live in all parts of the country and Europe. We juggled tickets, rides, and dinners before or after, as we coordinated our plans for the event.
• Next, we showed up and hugged each other, physically reconnecting after just email over the months. We met new folks who have found us, and met each others’ families.
• We found our seats in the theater for the showing, all glommed together as much as we can.
• Afterwards, we just sort of sat, reflecting on what we’ve seen and been through, before talking among ourselves.
• Finally, we re-entered the world of whatever the event is, and talked to the creators and others.
• Then, some of us are asked write our thoughts and feelings for the jonestown report!
(Laura Johnston Kohl, who had lived in Jonestown but was working in Georgetown on 18 November, died on 19 November 2019 after a long battle with cancer. She was 72. Her writings for this website appear here.)