3. “Unfinished: Short Creek”
“Unfinished: Short Creek,” from Witness Docs, is the rare narrative about a cultlike situation that doesn’t feel at all voyeuristic; the sensitivity and care of its hosts, Ash Sanders and Sarah Ventre, are evident throughout. They spent four and a half years reporting on a community of fundamentalist, polygamist Mormons in Short Creek, on the Utah-Arizona border, the leader of which, Warren Jeffs, is now serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting a minor. The interviews are intimate and powerful, especially in the case of Elissa Wall, who suffered abuse as a child bride, escaped her marriage and the church, and testified against Jeffs. The series is enhanced by John DeLore’s excellent sound design, which includes a lovely, subtle score and the sounds of children singing about church elders. (“These are the things that Uncle Roy has taught us. . . .”) The show grounds its study of extremes and institutionalized power in everyday detail (watermelon-eating, “Weekend at Bernie’s”)—and, as Sanders observes, it increasingly reveals itself to be a tale not just of otherness but of “America with the volume turned up.”
Read the full list from The New Yorker, here.