Roger Ross Williams’ forceful polemic succeeds to a startling degree, rightly decrying the use of the gospel to incite homophobia, and allowing the most fervent interviewees to damn themselves with their own proselytizing words. It’s strong, head-shaking stuff… ,” raved Variety about “God Loves Uganda.

imagesIn 2010, Roger Ross Williams introduced audiences at Mountainfilm in Telluride to Prudence Mabhena, whose extravagant gift, the voice of an angel, was trapped inside a body distorted by arthrogryposis, a rare disorder which caused the contraction of joints and spine. Following a screening of the film that tells the story her life, “Music By Prudence,” she sang like an angel to a rapt crowd in a packed-to-the rafters Palm Theatre. There was not a dry eye in the house. “Music by Prudence” went on to win an Oscar for Best Documentary Short.

Williams must like dusting off trophies. Based on the raves that came out of Sundance, where his follow-up to “Prudence,” “God Loves Uganda,” premiered in January, the producer-director could well add another statue to his collection. And if his wish comes true, the documentary could change the hearts and minds of a country – and a continent.

“God Loves Uganda” is among the films generating pre-seat buzz at the 35th annual Mountainfilm in Telluride, Memorial Weekend, Friday, May 24 – Monday, May 27.

“God Loves Uganda” is a variation on the theme of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden,” – written in blood in the name of the Father. Although Kipling’s poem mixed exhortation to empire with somber warnings of the costs involved, imperialists have interpreted the phrase as a characterization for hegemony that justified the policy as a noble enterprise. Substitute Christian missionaries for heads of state and you get the picture.

About the documentary:

“God Loves Uganda” is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.

Roger Ross Williams exposes the missionary movement in Uganda as an outgrowth of Africa’s colonialist past and a 21st -century crusade to recreate a continent of people in the image and likeness of America’s most extreme fundamentalists. Through verite, interviews, and hidden camera footage – and with unprecedented access – “God Loves Uganda” follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt the radical task of eliminating “sexual sin” and converting Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity, transforming a Garden of Eden into a landscape of hate.

Roger Ross Williams by Marc Yankus

Roger Ross Williams by Marc Yankus

The doc features Lou Engle, the creator of  The Call, which brings tens of thousands of believers together to pray against sexual sin. It provides a rare view of the most powerful evangelical minister in Uganda, who lives in a mansion where he’s served by a white-coated chef. It goes into a Ugandan church where a preacher whips a congregation into mass hysteria with anti-gay rhetoric.

It records the culture clash between enthusiastic Midwestern missionaries and world-weary Ugandans. It features a heartbreaking interview with gay activist David Kato shortly before he was murdered. It tells the moving story of Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, a minister excommunicated, ostracized and literally spat on for being tolerant and his remarkable campaign for peace and healing in Uganda.

Shocking, horrifying, touching and enlightening, “God Loves Uganda” should make us question what we thought we knew about religion – or affirm our distaste for the prejudice extremism can breed.

Williams, a gay man himself, hopes “God Loves Uganda” will serve as a catalyst for change, through its international screening tour and social action campaign.

To learn more, watch the trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVgWl0bUZfk)


Listen to my chat with Roger Ross Williams.

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