Steven Greenstreet Photo by Brandon BlochThe film “8: The Mormon Proposition,” has all the makings of a Dan Brown novel: political intrigue, front organizations and questionable church practices. The difference is that the people in this story are real. It isn’t even fictional intrigue the documentary scrutinizes, but the events — some might say manipulations — that culminated with the passing of California’s Proposition 8 in November 2008.

The measure banned same-sex marriage by defining marriage in the state’s constitution as only valid between opposite-sex couples. The move came just six months after same-sex marriage had been ruled constitutional by the California Supreme Court. The documentary examines the role that the Mormon church played in supporting Prop 8 and the estimated $22 million that it spent in the months leading up to the election.

For co-director, Steven Greenstreet, “8” has been a personal endeavor — he was raised in a Mormon household.

“To make a film that criticizes that thing [the Mormon church] that for so long defined my life was at moments harrowing and at other moments liberating,” he said.

The film premieres June 18 at the AFI Silver Theatre — a day and two years after the first same-sex marriage took place in California.

» EXPRESS: Was there anything that came as a revelation to you as you made this movie?
» GREENSTREET: Even having grown up in the church and being a Mormon missionary, I was still shocked when we got a hold of the internal documents kind of outlining the church’s battle plan against gay marriage. It seems less of a plan written by representatives of God and more a plan written by political lobbyists in Washington. It was this kind of very politically scheming; all of the values I was taught in the Mormon church, of charity, of love, of loving your neighbor and tolerance were void in all of these documents that I was reading. It was so anti-gay it was mind-boggling.

» EXPRESS: How has your family reacted to your involvement with the film?
» GREENSTREET: When I made this film, I feared division and arguments within my own family and I had to battle with that every day on my involvement in this film. …I feared horrible encounters with my own family and, luckily, that hasn’t happened. My family has just been amazing and they love me no matter what and they understand that it’s important to me. While we may disagree religiously and politically, they understand that love conquers all of that and I’m glad we’ve been unified despite our differences.

» AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; opens Fri., through Sun., $10; 301-495-6700. (Silver Spring)

Written by Express contributor Topher Forhecz
Photo by Brandon Bloch