During World War II, America arrived for the first time in Vanuatu and impressed the natives with their advanced technology and generous gifts of cargo. Instead of threatening them or forcing religious ideologies upon them, American soldiers treated the Tannese with dignity and respect and donated medical supplies, food, clothes, and other necessities. In addition, the Tannese were amazed to see black officers among the ranks of soldiers.
America became their beacon of hope against the European occupiers and a resistance movement that had begun before the war assumed religious dimensions that now included America. A mysterious deity named John Frum emerged who embodied these sentiments. After the war, the United States left and the John Frum spirit also departed. A prophecy arose that John Frum would return to Tanna with an abundance of American goods and lead them to salvation from the Christian missionaries. Believers were thrown into prison by the British and French for blasphemy until they were granted religious freedom in 1957. The John Frum followers patiently wait for their American savior to return.
Upon discovering the existence of the John Frum Movement, Cevin Soling, a Harvard graduate student and filmmaker, traveled to Tanna with an abundance of American goods in the hopes of fulfilling the John Frum prophecy. “John Frum, He Will Come” chronicles Mr. Soling’s attempt at becoming an island god.
David E. Guinan is a writer, producer, and director who works in the world of converging media. He studied artistic applications of emerging technologies and comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin, as well as the Sorbonne. In 1998, he joined MTV Networks to develop and produce original multimedia programming. He went out on his own in 2001 and began an intense exploration of more experimental types of filmmaking. David produced and directed John Frum, He Will Come a feature length documentary about cargo cults that worship America on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. John Frum, He Will Come had its world premiere and headlined the 20th annual Hot Springs Documentary Festival. He also produced Freeloader, a narrative feature that premiered opening weekend at Rooftop Films and was featured in the New York Times, Time Out, and New York 1. He also continued his collaboration with artist Liz Magic Laser producing Flight and I Feel Your Pain, both of which received glowing reviews in the New York Times, Art Forum, Modern Painter, and New York Magazine. He continues to work with other notable artist including Frances Stark, Michelle Abeles, Simone Leigh, and Ryan McNamara.
Cevin Soling is a writer, director, producer, artist, and academic. He produced and directed The War on Kids, which illustrates how American public schools are now modeled after prisons and why they cannot be reformed. The film was honored as the best educational documentary at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival and received accolades from The New York Times, Variety, and The Huffington Post. Soling has been a guest on numerous radio shows including “The Lionel Show” (Air America), “The Joey Reynolds Show” (WOR), and “The Leonard Lopate Show” (WNYC). Additionally, he has appeared on national television on the RT network, “The Dr. Nancy Show” (MSNBC), and as a featured guest on “The Colbert Report.” Soling is currently enrolled in graduate school at Harvard University.