New movie recounts kidnapping of Gilbert man on mission in Russia

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By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy
By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy
By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy
By Erin Kennedy By Erin Kennedy

PHOENIX -- While on a mission for the Church of Latter-day Saints in Russia, a Gilbert man's life changed forever when he was kidnapped and held for ransom. The movie "The Saratov Approach" recounts the story and is coming to theaters in Phoenix today.

Travis Tuttle had just graduated high school when he left home for his mission trip to Russia. A group of locals approached Tuttle and a friend, saying they wanted to learn more about their religion and invited them over. When Tuttle and his friend entered the apartment, they were jumped, beaten and tied up. Tuttle was held for a ransom of $300,000 for one week before he was released.

Despite being kidnapped, Tuttle, who visited "Good Morning Arizona" Friday, said he had no hard feelings against his kidnappers.

"I definitely want to forgive them for what happened. It was a really tough situation for them; they were desperate for money," Tuttle said. "I don't recommend doing that but I understand they were in a tough situation and needed money and they thought this was going to be an easy avenue for it."

Tuttle's kidnappers never got $300,000 and Tuttle never learned why they let him go.

The story of Tuttle's kidnapping and mission in Russia attracted Maclain Nelson, a producer who also acted in film, when it came across his desk.

"A lot of times with these true stories in Hollywood, they take a lot of liberties and they change a lot, but with this the truth was so much more compelling than anything we could have thought up," Nelson said.

"The Saratov Approach" comes to theaters in the Valley today. It will be playing at Superstition Springs 25 Harkins Theater in Mesa on Superstition Springs Boulevard and at Cinemark 16 in Mesa on Dobson Road.

If the movie gets a good response and a lot of viewers this weekend, it may spread to more theaters across the Phoenix area.