The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.
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Church & State is the improbable story of a brash, inexperienced gay activist and a tiny Salt Lake City law firm that joined forces to topple Utah’s gay marriage ban. The film’s ride on the bumpy road to equality in Utah offers a glimpse at the Mormon church’s influence in state politics and the squabbles inside the gay community that nearly derailed a chance to make history. Church & State is a story of triumph, setback and a little-known lawsuit that should have failed, but instead paved the way for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay unions nationwide.
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