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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Mormon church is producing a film on the life of Joseph Smith, the faith's founder who claimed to have found a set of new Christian scriptures in 1820 that built a foundation for the world's fastest growing religion.
The movie is scheduled to be completed in time to mark the 200th anniversary of Smith's birth Dec. 23, 1805. Smith was a 14-year-old farm boy in Palmyra, New York, when he said he witnessed a vision of God and Christ and dug up a new gold-plated testament from a hillside, translating it into the Book of Mormon.
Details about the movie, its title and cast will be announced Monday during a film shoot in Provo, Utah, said Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This work is separate from "The Prophet," a feature film Mormon film director Richard Dutcher has said he plans to make for $12 million next year to coincide with the bicentennial of Smith's birth.
Dutcher has yet to start production, while the church already is filming in Provo.
PBS released the documentary "American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith," in 2000, the only major film wholly dedicated to the church founder.
The church plans to show its movie free of charge on a 31-by-62-foot screen at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, which has a theater that can translated dialogue in five languages.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)