NewFest: Love Free or Die
By Alex Panisch
Photo of Mark Andrew and Bishop Gene Robinson by Gillian Laub
Love Free or Die follows a little man who fought to change an entire religion. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003, an event rocked the Christian church. Macky Alston’s documentary traces the story of Robinson’s fight for inclusiveness and equality in the church.
Accompanied by his partner Mark, Robinson journeys across the globe, from his humble New Hampshire parish to London’s Lambeth Palace, to D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial, and to a California conference of the Episcopal Church, all the while preaching the word of god and campaigning
for equal rights. The Sundance Special Jury Prize winning film shows many sides of Bishop Robinson, the loving husband and father, the eloquent preacher, the passionate activist, and the very human—even vulnerable—Gene.
Peppered throughout with interviews from friends, family members, and colleagues, the anecdotes add color to a film that could otherwise skew into drap earnestness. Alston’s doc is enjoyable to watch and genuinely moving. You can’t help but feel for the man asked to choose between loving god and loving his partner, especially because Robinson doesn’t see a need to choose between these two loves. The film doesn’t make any attempts to experiment with style or structure; those would be superfluous with subject matter of this kind. Basically you get what’s on the tin, and that is by no means a bad thing.
Watch the trailer below