Kenyan Peter Murimi, author of a new documentary on a gay couple’s struggles to gain acceptance in his country, hopes the local film industry can play its part in promoting LGBTQ rights, such as did Hollywood.
In I am Samuel, screened at the London Film Festival this weekend, Murimi in turn addresses the issue of homosexuality in the face of religious and cultural conservatism in sub-Saharan Africa.
For him, bringing more gays to the screen on the continent, just like the mobilizations to decriminalize homosexuality, can move the lines.
“Hollywood has played a very important role for LGBTQ rights in the United States, it is undeniable“, Declared the director to AFP on the sidelines of the festival. “You could just see more gays on TV and in Hollywood, and gradually it got a lot easier for them. They say if you can win hearts, the law lapses», Underlines the Kenyan director, hoping that the cinema can change mentalities.
The optimism of Peter Murimi
Multiple award-winning Peter Murimi, now 42, who doesn’t hesitate to tackle complex societal issues, isn’t sure if he’ll get broadcast permission for I am Samuel in his country. He is currently screening it overseas, but believes Kenya will become more tolerant, even though the protagonists of his documentary have had to relocate for security reasons.
“Over the past ten years»LGBTQ rights«have made major advances», Insists Peter Murimi,«we’ll just do our best, hope the kenyans see it, that’s what we want“. The reception received by the latest African films on gay relationships gives him good hope.
In 2018, Rafiki, a love affair between two women, was first censored by censors in Kenya, before they reversed their decision. The film was sold out.
And last year, the British-Nigerian co-production Walking with Shadows, about the aftermath of a relationship between two men, has received critical acclaim despite a limited theatrical release in Lagos.
Peter Murimi’s film tells the story of Samuel and Alex, a couple from a humble background in Nairobi’s queer community. It comes out at a time when the law dating from the British colonial era which punishes carnal relationships is being challenged.against natureWith a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
The High Court upheld the law last year, but activists have appealed against the ruling.
For Peter Murimi, the fight must be led by the Kenyans. In his country, homophobes criticize gays for adopting “western behaviorAnd perceive calls for tolerance from outside as the imposition of an exogenous culture.
His documentary does not address the ongoing legal battle but rather focuses on Samuel’s struggle to gain acceptance for his relationship with his family, who live on a farm.
The director, a heterosexual who considers himself an ally of the LGBTQ community, explains that he wants to create something “who talks to parentsAlso, in order to broaden its audience. “This film will succeed, I hope, because it is not a “U.S. against them”. It is very nuanced, very balanced, it is the story of a family that has trouble with this question, having a gay son“, He explains, considering that”many fathers who have gay children will end up in this movie, or anyone whose siblings are gay“.