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The Independent Critic

Jennifer Lynn Dobner, Mark Lawrence, Jim Magleby, Taylor Petrey, Peggy Tomsic
Holly Tuckett, Kendall Wilcox
Torben Bernhard (Co-writer), Jennifer Lynn Dobner (Co-writer), Holly Tuckett (Co-writer), Kendall Wilcox (Co-writer)
85 Mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures

 "Church & State" Arrives on DVD with Breaking Glass Pictures 

Co-directed by Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox, the upcoming Breaking Glass Pictures release Church & State chronicles the remarkable story of a brash, inexperienced gay activist and a small Salt Lake City law firm that united and successfully toppled Utah's gay marriage ban. A feature-length documentary scheduled for DVD release on January 21st, Church & State picked up a Special Jury Award for Best Feature Film at the American Documentary Film Festival and Film Fund and the Filmmaker Award for Best Feature Documentary at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, Nice. 

At its core, Church & State explores the powerful influence that the Mormon Church, also known as Latter-Day Saints, holds over the political scene in Utah as it continues to remain true that a good majority of the state's politicians and community leaders maintain membership in the Mormon Church. Church & State examines the numerous setbacks on the way to toppling the gay marriage ban and also looks at a little known lawsuit that should have failed yet instead paved the way for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex unions nationwide. 

While in most ways Church & State is a rather straightforward doc that is structured around both archival footage and present-day interviews, it's the doc's ability to include actual footage from a variety of LDS Apostles and church leaders that really gives the film its remarkable emotional power. From cheekily "humorous" comments advocating violence against homosexuals and those who support their rights to the fervent condemnation of homosexuals, the footage presented in Church & State is disturbing in its matter-of-factness and frightening when one realizes that these same beliefs are influencing politics throughout the state. The film rightfully asks "Is this a democracy or a theocracy?" 

Church & State also brings to life the remarkable courage of those activists and advocates who fought for gay marriage within the state even when it seemed a nearly possible goal. At times almost working against themselves due to their own fractures within, these activists are nonetheless powerful in their presence and undeniably influential. 

At about the halfway mark of the film's 85-minute running time, Church & State truly begins to connect emotionally as the state's constitutional ban is overturned, incredibly unexpectedly, and a flood of marriages begin to occur. It becomes clear that nearly everyone within state government was befuddled by this decision, their inaction indicative of the overwhelming privilege with which they had lived their political lives. 

Intelligently constructed and emotionally resonant, Church & State is a powerful documentary that will most certainly be meaningful for anyone connected to or involved in civil rights, social justice, and the issue of gay rights. Indie distributor Breaking Glass Pictures has once again landed a mighty fine film and you can check it out for yourself by visiting the Breaking Glass website linked to in the credits. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic