Set and shot over a five year period, The Case Against 8 is a documentary that covers the many lawsuits which resulted from the repeal of gay marriage with Proposition 8 after its brief legalization in the state of California. Already dealing with substantial and narratively rich material, co-writer/directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White take the story a step further and craft a great film that ranks among the most entertaining and well-produced feature documentaries produced in the last decade.
Taking a completely one sided view of the issue – the one interviewee who they recount as having an alternative view is ridiculed before he’s revealed as having since become a convert to their cause – the documentary follows the legal team who engineer the case and the four plaintiffs composed of two gay couples who become the face of their campaign to restore marriage equality as it goes from court to court after a multitude of appeals. The documentary team faithfully capture the entire (lengthy) process.
What is perhaps most remarkable about the film, and differentiates it from a host of other factual films, is that the richness of its real life narrative is used as fertile ground for a lot of humour. As unlikely as it seems, the two main legal representatives for the case are the same two who fought on opposite sides of the case to discredit the Florida election votes which led to the first term election of George W. Bush in 2000. Following his victory in that, conservative Republican Ted Olson joins the cause on the grounds that ‘marriage is a conservative value’ and therefore should be open to all so that gay people can raise traditional and loving families, and naturally becomes the butt of many a joke as he meets opposition from members of his own party (ultra right wing radio announcer Rush Limbaugh memorably laments that he doesn’t ‘know what’s going on with Ted Olson – he used to know what was going’).
Well crafted, telling a story that demands not only to be told but seen, and most importantly resulting in a spectacularly entertaining film, The Case Against 8 is sure to be, if not the finest documentary of the year, certainly the most crowd pleasing.
The Case Against 8 is in selected cinemas from 9 October through Leap Frog Films.