Powerful Kenyan LGBT film screens in Jozi and CT


stories_of_our_lives_film_screened_south_africaAn anthology film about Kenya’s LGBT community that landed its producer in jail will be screened in Cape Town and Johannesburg in the coming days.

Stories of Our Lives, which recounts five LGBT people’s real-life experiences in Kenya, has won numerous awards, including the Teddy Special Jury Award and second Place Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale in 2015.

“This film is about fighting openly for the right of Africans to have different opinions, different world views, different identities and dreams – and for all these multiple identities to co-exist,” said co-writer, director and editor, Jim Chuchu.

Under Kenya’s penal code, same-sex consensual sex between adults is punishable with between five to 14 years imprisonment.

The film’s cast and crew initially chose to remain anonymous out of fear of being targeted for making it. They only revealed their identities at its world première at the Toronto International Film Festival in September last year.

A month later, Stories of Our Lives was banned by the Kenyan Film Classification Board for “obscenity, explicit scenes of sexual activities and [for promoting] homosexuality, which is contrary to [Kenya’s] national norms and values.”

On the 15th of October 2014, the Kenyan authorities arrested the film’s executive producer George Gachara, who was accused of shooting the film without a licence. He faced up to five years in prison. The case against him was thankfully later dropped by the state.

Huffington Post called the film, “one of the most triumphant and stunning films of the year”, while the Hollywood Reporter said it is, “A mix of journalistic chronicle, political protest and gorgeous visual poem.”

Stories of Our Lives will be screened at the Bioscope in Johannesburg (23 to 28 October) and the Labia Theatre in Cape Town (23 to 29 October).

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