Imagine Dragons frontman and Mormon Dan Reynolds recently embarked on a new mission: to explore and influence how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints treats its LGBTQ members. Believer follows his quest to change hearts and minds and promote inclusivity and understanding in the tireless fight toward acceptance for all. Directed by Don Argott (“Last Days Here,” “Art of the Steal”), and produced by Live Nation Productions, the moving documentary debuts MONDAY, JUNE 25 (8:00-9:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Having been silent for too long about the Church’s intolerance towards the LGBTQ community and becoming increasingly affected by the skyrocketing teen suicide rates in Utah, Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, himself a member of the Church, decides to stand up for what he believes in. Using his platform to spark a dialogue between the Church and the LGBTQ community, Reynolds embraces a new role as advocate for LGBTQ youth.
Understanding that change can only happen from within, he starts with an apology to Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn. After publicly coming out, Glenn learned of the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, and its policies banning children of same-sex couples from being baptized before age 18. Glenn subsequently left the Church, a decision that still weighs on him today, and in 2017 welcomed the opportunity to help Reynolds coordinate the first LoveLoud Festival, intended to promote greater LGBTQ inclusivity in the Mormon community.
In addition to rousing footage from the festival and intimate behind-the-scenes footage of Reynolds, Believer highlights stories of Mormon community members struggling with the Church’s views on LGBTQ rights. Reynolds encounters Heather and her daughter, Savannah, who bravely came out during a Church service. “I was made the way I am, all parts of me, by my heavenly parents,” says Savannah. “They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay. God loves me just this way, because I believe that he loves all his creations.”
He also meets Alyson and George, whose teen son, Stockton, committed suicide after feeling alienated from his community. Hearing these stories, Reynolds becomes committed to providing them with a platform to educate others about their experiences.
Despite LoveLoud Festival’s wave of press attention, the Mormon community is afraid to show support without the Church’s consent, and less than half the tickets have been sold just two weeks before the event. Finally, after securing a venue, Reynolds is ecstatic when the Church releases a statement applauding the festival’s mission to address the safety of LGBTQ youth, resulting in a rapid increase in ticket sales.
When the big day finally arrives, Reynolds takes the stage in front of a diverse crowd, proclaiming that they “can all agree on one thing, and that’s love.” Between messages of hope and performances by Aja Volkman, Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons and more, attendees are overwhelmed by the event’s enormity.
Months later, despite an encouraging dialogue with the Church, Reynolds is blindsided by an announcement at its biannual general conference, in which Mormon leaders double down on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Undeterred, he pledges to hold LoveLoud annually until it’s no longer necessary, and swears to “continue to knock on this door until somebody answers.”
Oscar(R) winner Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King”) composed the score for Believer and contributed to one of the two original songs Reynolds wrote for the film, entitled “Skipping Stones.”
Believer is the second film HBO has acquired from Live Nation Productions, following “Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends),” which debuted on HBO in Feb. 2017.