A Black woman’s journey from the Jonestown compound is finally being told in documentary No Church in the Wild, set to be released June 19 on YouTube.
Directed by Richmond Obeng, No Church in the Wild is based on Slavery Of Faith, No Church in the Wild, the 2009 memoir of Leslie Wagner-Wilson, one of the Black former members of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple and Jonestown in Guyana. Wagner-Wilson’s memoir recounts her and her son’s harrowing escape from the compound in 1978, where 900 people were killed, including Wagner-Wilson’s mother, husband, sister, brother, nephew and niece.
According to the official description, the film will reveal how Wagner-Wilson and many other Black Americans, mostly Black women, were lured in by the promises stated by Jones.
Using archival footage and Wagner-Wilson’s personal memories, Obeng showcases a never-before-seen perspective of one of the Jonestown massacre’s only survivors while unpacking details that are often skipped over when the history of The People’ Temple and Jonestown are discussed.
Of the 900 plus lives that were lost at Jonestown, more than 70 percent were Black. No Church In the Wild unpacks the intricate societal and cultural structures that were in place that allowed Jones to reel in so many Black American members, the majority of them, Black women.
Obeng intimates that Wagner-Wilson’s memoir gives voice to those Black members whose stories have gone untold.
“Leslie takes control of The Peoples Temple narrative and offers her truths as a voice for so many of the deceased Black folks whose story has been relegated to the background of such a historic event,” he said in a statement.
The film is produced by Obeng, Lindsey Addawoo and Shadow And Act’s Aramide Tinubu.
Photo credit: Anansi Minds