Day 2 of the USA Film Festival and director Reed Cowan not only wants to introduce the film, but he wants to apologize. He tells the story of when he was a sixteen-year-old Mormon, out trying to spread the gospel, when he stumbled upon a man grieving the recent loss of his partner of many years. Instead of sympathizing, he informed the man that he really wasn’t gay and gave him materials to show him how to change. “As a married gay man with children, I can’t imagine someone telling me, in that situation, that I should change. I want to apologize.”
His controversial film 8: The Mormon Proposition begins with a happy couple getting married in San Francisco on June 16, 2008. Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones are not only both ex-Mormons, but Tyler has ancestral ties to Joseph Smith himself. Tyler’s mother Linda still has ties to the church, but in the face of Proposition 8 and the impending destruction of her newly married son’s rights, she emotionally and earnestly protests the actions of the Mormon church. We watch Tyler and Spencer’s tearful reaction to the election in November as their rights are taken away, and we watch Linda as she protests in the streets shouting, “NO ON HATE!”
During the Proposition 8 campaign, the Mormon church was a big financial supporter. The film, narrated by Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk), makes the argument that even though the majority of Mormons live in Utah, they aggressively targeted their members in California. They not only suggested donating to the support of Prop 8, they ordered it. Their prophet Thomas S. Monson delivered numerous speeches urging the destruction of gay marriage, stating that it is an abomination and dangerous to society. According to the Mormon church, anything that is spoken of the prophet is also spoken of God, as he has direct contact with Him.
As with many documentaries, I’m sure 8: The Mormon Proposition is very one-sided. It paints Mormons in an awful light. However, the story-telling of the people involved, is very well done. The film is anchored by the story of Tyler, Spencer, and Linda and is at several times incredibly moving. Many times, the film moved me to tears. Perhaps it was because of the director’s passionate apology or because of the theater full of the LGBT community, but the energy in the theater that night was infectious. I’m not saying that because of this movie anyone should inflict hate upon Mormons, but because of this movie, I’m more inclined to help with the passage of gay rights however I can.
Director: Reed Cowan
Notable Cast: Dustin Lance Black, Spencer Jones, Tyler Barrick, Linda Stay
Writer(s): Reed Cowan