History has been made after Kenya’s very first LGBTI film festival was held in Nairobi this past weekend.
The two day Out Film Festival – showcasing films, documentaries and movies that highlight the lives of gay, lesbian and transgender persons – was hosted by LGBTI group Gay Kenya Trust, in collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland and Germany’s Goethe Institute.
The organisers said that the event would “bring to light, through film, an often marginalised and discriminated community”.
They added: “The film festival wants to make known a community that Kenyan society deems to be secret. The festival aims to entertain, educate and celebrate.”
In addition to the film line-up, the festival also included sessions by visiting film makers, Q&As and plenary discussions.
According to Behind the Mask, Me Only, the first Kenyan gay-themed feature film, was a highlight of the event.
“Most of the actors are professional actors, it was hard to get them to come up for the role,” said the film’s director Kevin Kiboma. “They feared a backlash. We had to really motivate the actors to get into their roles, it was quite challenging because we were dealing with issues that were not entirely comfortable for everyone but with time they overcame this. My job was to keep the cast focused on their roles.”
The film was reportedly disqualified from being considered by Kenya’s 2011 Kalasha Film Awards because of its gay themes.
Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya with penalties including imprisonment of between five and 14 years.