The film Fire Creek
aspires to greatness. It eschews the easy idealism and sentimentality that have marred many recent LDS productions. It makes no apologies for inviting the audience to engage their minds and souls with most serious matters. European cinematic techniques combine to make the film intensely earnest, almost self-conscious about itself as art. The music, composed by Jay Packard, comes together with visual symbols to highlight the film’s concern with themes of being fallen and being raised up. As Fire Creek
opens, we meet Jason Malek on the battlefield. In a single moment, his life is turned upside down as he is mysteriously prompted to move just before an explosion kills his best friend and leaves Jason seriously wounded. The question of who intervened and why motivates the rest of the drama.
Jason comes back home, where he is gradually introduced to a number of people whose lives are at great risk. We experience firsthand the terrors of drug abuse, the anxiety of losing parents, and the brutal violence of no-holds-barred boxing. Each person struggles to recover what has been lost. Each is fallen and in the grip of forces so powerful that they alone cannot overcome them. Jason’s spirit comes slowly to life as he invests himself in these lost souls. Fire Creek does not shrink from death. It leaves us, rather, with the burden of finding hope for those who survive. The film, filled with opposition and adversity, threatens to crush the life out of its characters and the audience. But the cinematography and editing allow glimpses of grace, cleansing, and refining, even if the refining must happen in a furnace of near despair. Finally, as Jason and his mother agree to take in an orphan as brother and son, the film’s vision takes hold. Jason realizes the voice he heard in battle was indeed the voice of God. His life has profound meaning: its purpose is to love and care for others. Only then does Fire Creek present its commitment to redemption through our Savior, Jesus Christ. The promise of resurrection, the reality of spiritual communication, and the enlivening power of God’s love leave the audience exhausted and refreshed. This film aspires to great things. We laud its aspirations and hope others will be inspired to make even better films in the future. The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to present the 2009 award in cinema to Fire Creek, produced by Dennis Packard and directed and photographed by Jed Wells, based on a story by Nathan Chai.