Film Director Writes Open Letter to the Jonestown Community

To the Jonestown Community:

We are producing a documentary film on the legacy of Jonestown, called After Jonestown. This is a non-profit production. In the past, other films have focused on events leading up to the deaths at Jonestown. Our film focuses on what happened afterwards to those who survived and those who lost loved ones at Jonestown. It will ask questions such as: Where are the survivors and relatives of those who died, and what are they doing now? How has Jonestown affected them? What has happened with their political convictions and religious faith? What are their memories and dreams of Jonestown and its people, and how do they deal with them? What issues remain unresolved? The film will tell the stories of several individuals and families associated with Peoples Temple, and will pay special attention to the stories of African-Americans. Our goal is to create a film that honors the memory of those who were lost at Jonestown and the lives of those who survived. We intend to complete the film by late 2004.

We’ve spoken with dozens of you by phone or in person. We’ve talked with members of Peoples Temple, and mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, sons and daughters, lovers and friends. You’ve been generous in spirit with us, especially considering what a painful topic this is. You’ve shown us photos of your beautiful family, made beautiful by the love you shared. You’ve shown some of the precious letters you keep, the script a touching reminder of the hand that wrote it. And, oh! the stories, they’ve been by turns joyful, agonizing, passionate, tender. And then there are the memories you keep for yourself, and of course, we understand that. We respect and admire your struggles and your strength. You have given us so much, in both words and silences, and we are grateful.

We invite people who were affected by Jonestown—survivors, relatives, and others—to contact us about the film and/or your experiences and stories. We don’t presume to be able to tell all of the stories of Jonestown in one film. But if we can cast a compassionate eye on just a few stories—of grief, struggle, faith, forgiveness—we hope and believe this film can be of service to the community of people who were affected by the life and death of the people of Jonestown.

As the 25th anniversary approaches, we join you in sorrow, and we wish you peace.

Rick Butler, Co-Director and Director of Photography
Pam Harris, Co-Producer 415-370-4169
Paul VanDeCarr, Co-Director and Co-Producer 415-355-1327

After Jonestown, P.O. Box 14056, San Francisco, CA 94114.