‘The 5 Browns: Digging Through the Darkness’ documentary to play at Red Rock Film Festival

Director of "The 5 Browns: Digging Through the Darkness" Ben Niles (far left) works on the documentary film, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Red Rock Film Festival, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Taking viewers from the triumphant musical career of five piano prodigies to the disclosure of child sex abuse and subsequent fight for healing and social justice, the documentary “The 5 Browns: Digging Through the Darkness” is one of more than 50 films to be screened at the 12th annual Red Rock Film Festival starting Nov. 2 in Cedar City.

Independently produced by award-winning filmmaker Ben Niles (“Note by Note,” “Some Kind of Spark”), “The 5 Browns: Digging Through the Darkness” is an intimate look at The 5 Browns, a group of classically trained sibling pianists who experienced a meteoric rise to stardom only to be devastated years later by the tragic revelation that all three sisters – Desirae, Deondra and Melody – had been sexually abused by their father during childhood.

Read more from 2017: ‘Speak Up for Change’: annual Dove Center gala features Brown sisters 

The 5 Browns burst on to the classical music scene after a New York Times profile in 2000. All five were studying piano at the esteemed Juilliard School (a first in the school’s long history) at the time, and the Times’ profile opened the door to immediate stardom and appearances on major broadcasts, including “60 Minutes,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

The following year they were signed to Sony Records and performed in major concert halls around the world. But as Melody describes it, “a lot was lurking there.”

Given unfettered access, Niles weaves together a profoundly moving mix of vérité footage, candid interviews, rehearsals, performances and a vast library of archival family video, addressing two major themes that have come to define each of The 5 Browns, both professionally and personally: healing through music and fighting to change statute of limitation laws for crimes of child sex abuse.

The Red Rock Film Festival features over 50 films from 19 countries and kicks off Nov. 2 in Parowan with a opening night and winter auction event featuring collegiate films from around the world.

The festival continues Nov. 7-10 with screenings at The Beverley Center for the Arts on the campus of Southern Utah University.

For more information, go to the Red Rock Film Festival website.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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