Posted by Tristan on:
A documentary about the involvement of the Mormon Church in the campaign for California’s Proposition 8.
Who should see this film:
People interested in GLBT issues, civil rights, constitutional law, religious studies, campaign finance law, and understanding Mormon beliefs. Fans of The Mormon Murders and Under the Banner of Heaven
Before seeing this documentary, most of my knowledge about Mormon beliefs came from the HBO series Big Love, which is entertaining - but probably not the most reliable source. 8 presents a fair and appropriately dispassionate explanation of why the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the LDS) opposes same-sex marriage. The documentary educates the public on the doctrine of the LDS and how they see homosexuality being a threat to the Mormon architecture of heaven.
Director Reed Cowan presents us with documents and letters that illustrate the LDS involvement in opposing equal marriage rights as far back as 1992 when the issue was first brought up in Hawaii. Reed also maps the strategy the church used to mobilize their agenda without the public realizing that they were the driving force behind it.
The most interesting and hard-hitting moments of the film were the interviews with actual Mormons conflicted - or downright angry - about the tactics used by the LDS in the campaign. The strategy included asking these Mormons to knowingly disseminate misinformation, and intimidating church members into giving money by implying their soul was at risk if they didn't. I got the sense that not all Mormons agreed that this was a battle worth compromising the integrity of the church.
Reed also interweaves a more human element into the film. We follow a gay couple married, after the state Supreme Court in California ruled that same-sex couples the right to wed, based on the equal protection argument. We witness their anxiety as prop. 8 threatened their marriage. The film also chronicles the struggles of Mormon homosexuals, including teen abandonment, and a startling suicide rate.
Wisely, Reed is careful to never outright criticize Mormons or the LDS. Instead, he allows the church's members, clergy, politicians, and their actions to speak for themselves. The second half of the film grants a lot of time to Mormons speaking on the subjects of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abuse of gay Mormons. Notable Utah Senator Chris Buttars is given more screen time than was needed for him to make an ass of himself.
I am sure that making this film involved a lot of difficult editing choices, and it would benefit from a few more. The first half of the film is great, towards the end however, I began to notice how long this documentary was.
I saw the copy of this documentary that was at the press office, and labeled “Rough Cut”. It is possible that the final cut for the big screen will be shorter and better edited, but regardless, you should not let the length stop you from seeing it.
8: The Mormon Proposition is a last minute a nominee for this years Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film.
This film will screen:
Thursday, Feb. 11, 9:30 p.m. at Victoria Hall Theatre
Friday , Feb 12, 11 a.m. at the Lobero
Saturday, Feb. 13 7:30 p.m. at the Lobero