“Basically it deals with an outside group, “the other,” that moves into a new town and is viewed through the prism of the other and it’s a spiritual religious group that this town isn’t familiar with” said Wild Wild Country filmmaker Chapman Way, setting up the premise of the documentary.
Directed by brothers Chapman and Maclain Way, The six-part docs-series chronicles the emergence of disciples of an obscenely wealthy religious guru named Bhagwan Rajneesh, who suddenly appear in the small, conservative Oregon town of Antelope, dressed in all red and with portraits of their leader hanging from their necks in 1981. This, of course, makes the townsfolk uneasy.
Despite its political undertones, Chapman insisted “you can’t really view this story through today’s political lens because a lot of the politics are inverted and kind of a very interesting way.” He continued, “You have a conservative Christian town that’s trying to limit freedom of religion and what this spiritual group can do. On the other side, you have a spiritual group that takes up the second amendment, buys AK-47s,guns and arms up.”
“We wanted to challenge viewers to try and really figure out exactly how they feel about the story,” added Maclain. “So you get to vastly different perceptions of the same story…we didn’t want to make it too easy for the audience to have to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation.”
The pic, which screened in the special events section at Sundance, will be available to stream on Netflix later this year.
The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.