“Love Free or Die” premieres at Sundance Film Festival

Macky Alston’s documentary focusing on Bishop Gene Robinson opened last night at the Sundance Film Festival.

Macky wrote in expectation of the premiere in an article published yesterday in Filmmaker, remembering the beginning of the journey:

When I spoke with openly gay bishop Gene Robinson about following him through a particularly harrowing period that he was about to enter, I told him that talking to him was like talking to Joan of Arc, in a time when a doc crew could capture the drama of the church/state firestorm he had found himself in. He laughed but said that it was true – he was caught in the crosshairs of cultural change and it was important to record it along the way, so he invited me to follow him for the next four years.

One of the first reviews comes from The Hollywood Reporter:

Despite the insurgent rallying cry implied by its title, Love Free or Die is a probing, even-handed account of the experience of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, non-celibate bishop ordained in a major Christian denomination. Examining the ripple effect of his actions both in the U.S. Episcopal Church and the 78 million-strong worldwide Anglican network to which it belongs, Macky Alston’s engrossing documentary sheds light on a significant chapter in the broader struggle for LGBT rights.

Beyond the Box offers behind the scenes interviews leading up to the premiere:


Having logged in on the interview with the film-maker of ‘Love Free or Die, Macky Alston, and seen the footage featuring Bishop Gene Robinson’s visit to Saint Mary’s Church, Putney, in london – at which I was personally present, together with my English clergyman brother-in-law – at the time of the Lambeth Conference 2008 (from which Bishop Gene was dis-invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams); I was reminded of the sensational interruption of his sermon by a heckler, who could easily have been an intentional assassin, given the threats that had been made at that time on the Bishop’s life.

To see, again, that moment of vulnerability experienced by bishop Gene, I was struck by the realisation of how much he had trusted in  God’s acceptance of him as a gay person and a Bishop in The Episcopal Church in the United States, an assurance that had given him the strength needed to confront the evils of homophobia within the Christian community, that had been part of the cause for which he had been denied a place at the table at Lambeth.

Despite the ungracious interruption of his sermon, which was about the need to plumb the depths of the love of God in ways that would disarm one’s enemies; Bishop Gene’s sermon was one of thankfulness to God that, at last, in the Church in North America, the way had been opened up to a new understanding of the mystery of gender and sexuality, that would pave the way for Christians around the world to accpet LGBT people for the value they are to God, and get on with the larger mission of the Church that shows God’s love to ALL.

Apparently, the film’s debut at the Sundance Festival got a rousing welcome from ALL.

(I am indebted to ‘Epsicopal Cafe’ for this article)

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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3 Responses to “Love Free or Die” premieres at Sundance Film Festival

  1. Brian Ralph says:

    I do hope we will be able to see this in NZ. I had a wonderful meeting with Bishop Gene after he attended St James, King Street (yes in Sydney). He could not do more than visit as a worshipper but after I told him some of my story of persecution by the evangelical diocese, he gave me a big hug. I wish there had been people like him around when I was a young man considering the priesthood.

  2. Greetings, Brian! Thank God there are churches like St. James and Christchurch St.Laurence in Sydney. Pairshes where the Gospel of Inclusion is incarnated in the people of those parishes. I, too, found Bishop Gene a very gentle and loving person, who took great personal risks during his early ministry as a bishop – just to proclaim the Love of God in the world.

  3. It’as good to note, from the announcement below, that this documentary has won the prize:

    “Love Free or Die” wins at Sundance
    Sundance Film Festival announces awards:
    Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Grace Under Pressure:
    Love Free or Die, directed by Macky Alston

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