Directed by Saila Huusko & Jasper Rischen • Documentary • 2017 • 82 minutes
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. In the midst of a frenzied election to determine the next President of the tribe, Moroni for President takes the audience to every corner of this vast area in the iconic American Southwest. The film centers on Moroni Benally, an underdog candidate with radical ideas, whose homespun campaign originated out of frustration about the lack of progress in the reservation where he grew up. The witty academic embarks on a grueling, lonely campaign, discovering soon enough that theory does not necessarily prepare you for the daily dirt of politics.
As the election unfolds, the film delves into Moroni's layered identity as a Mormon and gay Navajo man and, along the way, expands to include other LGBTQ+ characters working on some of the other campaigns. This includes Zachariah George, who is an eccentric assistant to the incumbent president and has a love for beauty pageants, traditional singing, and the Navajo language; and Alray Nelson, an LGBTQ+ rights advocate and campaign manager of one of the frontrunners. Simultaneously a behind-the-scenes look into a political campaign within a Native American community and an exploration of identities within said community, Moroni for President is an eye-opening and humorous portrait of a political race that runs surprisingly parallel to the current political landscape of the US at large.