Sundance Day Two: “God Loves Uganda” and “The Stuart Hall Project”

(top) Photo from Q&A with director and crew of "Gid Loves Uganda", (L) still from the film, (r) Stuart Hall
(top) Photo from Q&A with director and crew of “Gid Loves Uganda”, (L) still from the film, (r) Stuart Hall

Friday, day two out of three here, was a documentary focused day when I saw two films back to back at the Redstone Theater venue after a sunny morning cruising around main street.

The first film was British director John Akomfrah’s The Stuart Hall Project. Stuart Hall is one of the fathers of cultural studies and a big intellectual influence on me. I’ve always found his writing incredibly accessible compared to many other academic types and always admired his balance between academics and on the streets activism.

Akomfrah’s film was a beautiful portrait that broke the traditional documentary mode–and would thrill the archivists I know. The entire film is entirely built from archival footage and audio which pieces together bits from Hall’s TV show and radio shows that were broadcast on BBC with news footage. The footage was placed against tracks from Miles Davis, Hall’s favorite jazz musician. Akomfrah said in the Q&A that the jazz was the narrator of the film–it was creative and impressive how it all worked together and shaped his editing process. It was edited into sequences that each had a title but were each still seemingly loose in structure and theme but then came together in interesting ways. “I wanted to make this archival footage have a conversation with each other in way it hadn’t before” Akomfrah said.

Next we saw God Loves Uganda by Roger Ross Wilson, which floored me. Wilson, who shared in the Q&A that he was raised evangelical himself, spent several years building a relationship with this mega church in Kansas City and then traces their missionary work in Uganda as part of a larger story about US evangelical extremists influence in Uganda and other parts of the African continent. The basic premise of the film is that since some of these extremists within their movement are losing the cultural war in the US, they are pushing their homophobia there. There’s so much I want to say about this film but don’t have time before running out the door this morning to see Fruitvale, based on the story of Oscar Grant who was shot by police in the Bay area. More soon!

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