Virtual Screening Room: Moroni for President

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2018 • dir Saila Huusko, Jasper Rischen w/Moroni Benally • 76 min

This acclaimed documentary offers an eye-opening and humorous look at a political race that runs surprisingly parallel to the current political landscape of the U.S. The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States. Every four years, the Navajo tribe elects its president, whom many consider the most powerful Native American in the country. The film centers on Moroni Benally, an underdog, intellectual candidate with radical ideas, whose homespun campaign originated out of his frustration with the lack of progress in the reservation where he grew up. The witty academic embarks on a grueling, lonely campaign, discovering soon enough that political theory does not necessarily prepare you for the daily dirt of political campaigning.

As the election unfolds, the film delves into Moroni’s layered identity as a Mormon and gay Navajo man and, along the way, introduces and explores the lives of other LGBTQ+ characters working on other campaigns. These include Zachariah George, an eccentric assistant to the incumbent president with a love for beauty pageants, traditional singing, culture, and the Navajo language; and Alray Nelson, an LGBTQ+ rights advocate and campaign manager of one of the frontrunners. MORONI FOR PRESIDENT offers both a behind-the-scenes look into a political campaign within a Native American community and an exploration of the diverse identities within it.

“A compelling look at the LGBTQ community within the Navajo nation, and how politics are navigated from a community being controlled by the outside.”
The Advocate

“‘Moroni for President’ shows that even a seemingly hopeless cause is worth fighting for and in unexpected ways can succeed.”
– Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

“Moroni For President provides an insider’s look at Navajo politics and a rare perspective on marginalised lives.”
– Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film