Filmed over the course of two years during three visits to Uganda starting January 2010, Call Me Kuchu is a documentary that focuses on gay rights (to be precise – the absence of them) in the “Pearl of Africa”. Co-directed by video journalist Malika Zouhali-Worrall and award-winning photographer Katherine Fairfax Wright, the film premiered yesterday, 11th February in the 62ndinternational Berlin Film Festival Panorama Documentary programme.
This film follows the life of David Katos, Uganda’s first openly gay activist, and his pledge against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that religious groups in Uganda were trying to pass in 2011. Devoid of one of the basic human rights – the right to openly love whoever they wish, and not be afraid of getting killed on the street or be imprisoned for 7 years because of that, as the Bill would allow – David and three fellow activists (“kuchus”, as homosexuals are called in Uganda) share their painful life stories and day-to-day encouragements. They believe the situation can one day be changed, if they only keep fighting and take pride in who they are. At the same time one of the most popular Uganda’s tabloids, Rolling Stone, keeps printing hateful articles that disclose gays who did not wish to come out of the closet under the current situation, and openly encourages violent acts against them.
The tragic death of David Katos – he is found dead in his bed having been bludgeoned – stirs up the disagreement among LGBT community and Christian-fanatics, as the parson in the funeral begins to preach a hateful anti-gay sermon and causes uproar. The pain of Katos’ friends having lost their most inspiring spiritual leader, as well as their strength, unity and support for each other while facing the inconceivable hatred of society – all is portrayed so intimately in Call Me Kuchu that there is no way this film can fail to grasp the hearts of audiences who have been living in a liberated society long enough to forget what it feels like to be fighting hard for the very basics.
Call Me Kuchu is not only touching – it is extremely important and necessary for its time, as it documents history in the making and raising of political awareness. Uganda’s LGBT fight is not yet won, – but Malika and Katherine promise to keep us updated, and consider re-cutting the film as the situation progresses.