Written and co-directed by former Mormon missionary Reed Cowan, and narrated by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, 8: The Mormon Proposition exposes the breadth and depth of the Mormon Church’s involvement in the promotion and passage of California’s ballot measure overturning gay marriage, and the religion’s ongoing campaign against gay rights. It pulls back the curtain on the Mormon Church’s shadowy activism, from a dry run ballot initiative in Hawaii to secret audio from a one-hour directive from church elders, and stories of bishops actually going to parishioners’ homes with tithing records in hand, goading them into donations.
While it definitely espouses a specific political viewpoint, the film packs an emotional punch because it angles for a base-level inclusivity homosexuals are denied, giving ample time to Mormon activists (if not official church spokespeople, who decline to participate). As it progresses, the movie becomes a bit less focused, taking aim at Mormon hypocrisy more broadly, and the emotional damage done by electroshock homosexual conversion therapy and other religious hectoring — terribly sad and moving material, but a bit digressively interwoven. Its powerful correlative lesson, though? That social media and citizen journalism will play an increasingly important role in outing big-money political players, be they churches, corporations or individuals, who would like to silently put their stamp on laws and policy from the capitalistic safety of the shadows. (Red Flag, R, 78 minutes)