Saturday, May 11, 2013

SFIFF: God Loves Uganda

Thursday night I caught one of the last screenings at the SF International Film Festival & saw God Loves Uganda, a documentary tracing the influence of American evangelical Christians on Uganda. The film argues that evangelicals are importing a zealous homophobia, to the extent that Uganda's parliament is considering a bill outlawing homosexuality, with the death penalty invoked for serial offenders. The film begins in Kansas City, Missouri, at the cult-like International House of Prayer, amusingly referred to by its members as "IHOP," & follows a group of eager young missionaries to Uganda. They never appear to preach hate, but footage of IHOP's Lou Engle stating that homosexuality is "more demonic than Islam" made the festival audience gasp. The film introduces us to other anti-gay crusaders in Uganda, counterbalanced by the ex-communicated Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who behaves like an actual Christian. Video of him at the funeral of gay rights activist David Kato is powerful.

I admired the filmmakers for traveling with the IHOP missionaries, who will start singing & praying at the drop of a hat. The audience applauded when a Ugandan woman told the missionaries she doesn't need their message because she is already a Muslim. The country of Uganda itself appears vibrant & beautiful in the film. I liked hearing Tom Waits sing "Lord I’ve Been Changed" over the final credits.

SF International Film Festival photo IMG_20130509_193621_zps155fd493.jpgThe screening was introduced by festival programmer Sean Uyehara, who thanked festival volunteers & house staff. A show of hands indicated that a large portion of the audience had seen 5 or more films at the festival. A few had seen 15 or more. Mr. Uyehara said that if we were exhausted, then the festival had done its job.

§ God Loves Uganda
dir. Roger Ross Williams
USA, Uganda, 2013, 83 mins.

The 56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Mon, 5/6 8:15 PM
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Tue, 5/7 3:30 PM
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Thu 5/9 8:00 PM

No comments: