Monday, October 21, 2013

God Loves Uganda

Documentarian Roger Ross Williams (whose short "Music by Prudence" beat out the better choice "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant" for the 2009 Oscar) returns with "God Loves Uganda," about the efforts of fundamentalist Christian missionaries to proselytize in the highly religious African nation, and in particular the disturbing effects of their anti-gay rhetoric on Ugandan society and politics.

It's intended as a sort of prequel to a better documentary from earlier this year entitled "Call Me Kuchu," which introduced us to several queer Ugandans (including the late activist David Kato) and showed us the harassment, intimidation, and violence they routinely confront. Williams does well to let his subjects, mostly well-intentioned young adults, speak for themselves. The real story, though, is at the leadership level, and that's where Williams' reporting falls short. We need him to reveal clear connections between American dollars and the heads of Ugandan religious and governmental institutions - those who paint all gays with depictions of extreme fetish activities and trot out the reliable bugaboo of recruitment of children. Instead, the film feels highly anecdotal and occasionally redundant.

Below, the Oscar moment in which "Prudence" co-producer Elinor Burkett Kanye'd Williams:

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