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TFF Interview with ‘Hail Satan?’ Director Penny Lane

You could count the number of people walking out of the theater saying, ‘maybe I’m a Satanist.’

Penny Lane on her experience at the film’s Sundance premiere
Penny Lane talks with us about all things Satan in her latest hit documentary.

Tallahassee Film Festival artistic director Steve Dollar stopped by to chat with Penny Lane, and her cat Tiny, in Brooklyn, where the filmmaker was getting ready for festival jaunts to Montreal and Boston to show her new documentary Hail Satan? Lane, who previously anatomized the Nixon White House via the home movies of its infamous senior staff (Our Nixon) and revealed the shocking tale of a quack doctor marketing virility pills made from goat testes (Nuts!), is no stranger to the more eccentric wavelengths of American life. In her recent Sundance Film Festival hit, she probes beyond the surface of the seemingly radical Satanic Temple. The activist religious group is notorious for hauling an imposing statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed idol today associated with Satanism, to public and governmental sites as a protest for religious liberty and freedom of speech. The mass media, especially TV news shows, lapped it up, as the Temple and its horned god repeatedly showed up at whatever state capitol lawmakers had decided to install statuary of the Ten Commandments. (Watch closely Tallahassee peeps: Its opening scene takes place on the grounds of our own Capitol). But the group’s culture warriors, and its leader Lucien Greaves, turned out to have a more profound, and surprising, agenda. The devil is in the details, they say … but the devil was also an angel.

“You could count the number of people walking out of the theater saying ‘maybe I’m a Satanist’ and they looked really perplexed and maybe a little disturbed by that thought,” says Lane. “We’re not trying to convert anyone to Satanism, but we did want to take these people seriously enough to present their worldview accurately.”

Hail Satan? screens Saturday, April 6 at 2:45 p.m. at FSU’s Student Life Center cinema.