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The untold story of the remarkable civil rights pioneer Father Divine – who had over a million followers worldwide and is considered the link between Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King – but is neglected by historians because he claimed that he was God incarnate.
Father Divine was born in poverty, the son of emancipated slaves. At his peak, he was one of America’s most controversial religious leaders. He preached that he himself was an incarnation of God, and that by following his rules of purity and celibacy, you can live forever in “heaven on earth.” His movement, dedicated to integration and communal living, was an innovator in desegregating neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and the ballot box in the 1930’s and 40’s, through his radical program of empowerment. He commanded hundreds of properties and businesses, all funded by the work of his thousands of followers. But scandal, suspicion, and racism lead to clashes with the law. Though he was once a celebrity, and was decades ahead of his time fighting for civil rights, he has largely been written out of history because of the audacity of his religious claims, and doubt about his motives.
Today, Father’s few remaining followers live as a communal family on a magnificent estate outside Philadelphia. As time and mortality confront the followers, they struggle to preserve Father’s legacy. Through unprecedented access to this unique and reclusive community, the film explores the line between faith and fanaticism, between a religion and a cult. Father’s revolutionary ideas on race and identity still resonate today.
Lenny Feinberg began his documentary career by producing the acclaimed documentary The Art of the Steal which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and went on to play at the New York Film Festival, Palm Springs and others ultimately being acquired by IFC Films. Feinberg’s next film was Black and White and Dead All Over which played on WNET in NYC and premiered at the Newseum in Washington D.C. Father’s Kingdom is Feinberg’s directorial debut. Lenny discovered and initiated each of these films through his unique access to and perspective on Pennsylvania stories. But his route to filmmaking has not been a traditional one. His first job was as the assistant to the legendary Otto Preminger. But he soon found that independent filmmaking was not a sustainable way to raise a family – so he moved to Philadelphia and started a career not in film. After raising two sons and a daughter Lenny has returned to his first love – filmmaking.
A two-time Mid-Atlantic Emmy winner, Father’s Kingdoms Nancy Cutler’s second independent documentary as a producer.
Her first film was Black and White and Dead All Over, an in-depth look at the newspaper industry as it struggles to remain financially viable and to keep the presses rolling
Prior to venturing into the independent documentary world, Nancy worked at WCAU-TV starting as an intern and working her away up to become the assignment manager.
In 1988 she left the station to become an independent producer and researcher working on shows for “The Discovery Channel”, The Learning Channel” and “The Food Network.”
Nancy is an avid volunteer in South Jersey. She has coordinated marketing needs for a number of non-profit organizations.
Claire L. Chandler is an editor and producer specializing in long form documentary.
Selected recent credits include Producer on The Rape of Recy Taylor, Co-producer on By Sidney Lumet (American Masters, Dir. Nancy Buirski), and Editor on Father’s Kingdom.
She was Editor and Associate Producer on The Yes Men Are Revolting, Associate Producer and Associate Editor on The Light In Her Eyes (POV, Dir. Laura Nix and Julia Meltzer) and Egypt: We are Watching You (Dir. Jehane Noujaim.)
Claire has been on the team of films released and broadcast worldwide including on HBO, ARTE, and BBC.