This year,I got a chance to attend the out film festival .The movies came right after the famous Rafiki was banned in Kenya. (Rafiki ;Is the first Kenyan feature film to compete at the prestigious Cannes film festival). It was not part of the festival given it only had a week to be in the cinemas in Kenya. It was supposed to be nominated for the Oscars and for that to happen, the movie must be watched in your home country.
Thanks to National Gay and Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) due to the impact they pulled during Rafiki we were able to have all these breathtaking movies and documentaries here in Kenya. With guests coming from Uganda,South Africa ,Germany and The U.K. Panel discussion after every movie made the movies worth it more.
The theme which was WE DO NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF SHAME,is lifted from a conversation between Blanca and Damon ,two characters from POSE. The show is the first scripted television series to feature mostly trans actors of color in starring roles and has been hailed as a solid and saucy representation of NYC ballroom culture that waves in matters of race,sexuality and class. Here in Kenya ,Well we can’t help think of Kena and Ziki from Rafiki and how the simple-mindedness and cruelty of people will break your heart.
I had a chance to watch the following movies and documentary:
Duo impacto (2017).
Short Documentary .
Directed by Molly Harding/Miranda Everingham/ Alexandra Nagy.
Run time : 8 minutes.
Language : Spanish with English subtitles.
Duo impacto is a short documentary film,shining a light on two women’s effort to challenge gender expectations and spread acceptance and understanding in their rural community in Havana,Cuba. A lesbian couple sharing their experience about coming out of the closet.
Director: Akosua Adomo Owusu.
Run time : 8 minutes.
Region : Ghana -USA.
Language :English .
This is about a young Ghanaian man struggling to reconcile his love for his mother with his love for same-sex desire amid the increased tensions incited by the same sex politics in Ghana.
Director : Deepa Mehta.
Run time :108 minutes.
Region : Canada India.
Language: English Hindi.
Radha is unwavering in her devotion to her husband Ashok,despite their barren and sexless arranged marriage.For 15 years Radha has been the consummate Indian wife Ashok,under the guidance of the spiritual leader,is attempting to rid himself completely of any form of desire.
Ashok’s brother Jatin has brought home his new Sita ,but is unwilling to give up his relationship with his Chinese girlfriend. Sita’s presence causes the threads that held the family together to unravel.While each member tries to hang on to a semblance of allegiance to the deeply rooted traditions of Indian family life,at the same time all of them are seeking to express their own personal need.
This was my favorite one ……..
Beats per minute(2017).
Director: Robin Campillo.
Run time : 143 minutes.
Language: French with English subtitles.
Paris.A group of activists goes to battle for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold,invasive actions.The organization ACT UP and it’s members,many of them gay and HIV positive ,embrace their mission with a literal life -or-death urgency.Amid rallies,protests,fierce debates and ecstatic dance parties,the newcomer Nathan falls in love with Sean,the group’s radical firebrand and their passion sparks against the shadow of morality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.
Director: Andrew Haigh.
Run time: 97 minutes.
Language : English.
One night stand that becomes something more an unconventional love story between two young men trying to make sense of their lives. Friday night after hanging out with his straight mates,Russell heads out to a night club,alone and on the pull. Just before closing time he picks up Glen and so begins a weekend in bars and in bedrooms,getting drunk and taking drugs,telling stories and having sex that will resonate throughout their lives.
Shake down (2018)
Director : Leilah Weinrub
Run time : 82 Minutes
Region : USA
Language : English
A story of Los Angeles’ black lesbian strip club scene and it’s genesis. Owned and operated by women,underground and illegal in nature,the club shakedown is the darker,faster,younger iteration of this dance culture. The film is a window into this world. Shakedown emerged from a post riots,post-OJ ,post- integration but still very racially divided Los Angeles.In this divided city shakedown is an independent ,all black and all female cash economy.
Saturday church (2017).
Run time: 82 minutes.
Region : USA.
Language : English.
14-year-old Ulysses has just lost his father.His mother Amara is left to raise her two young children with the only help of their strict and conservative aunt Rose.Ulysses is now expected to be the man of the house and shoulder his responsibilities.The shy and effeminate Ulysses has another challenge to comfort: He is not comfortable in his own skin.His family pretends that he is just going through a phase,Ulysses is also being bullied at school for his introversion and sensitivity. He finds an escape by creating a world of fantasy for himself,filled with glimpses of beauty,dance and music.
Saturday church is a colorful and celebratory musical journey into the world of a boy struggling to find his own identity.
Director :Grant Lahood.
Run time :68 minutes.
Region: Diverse ( New Zealand, Germany,USA,South Africa,Australia).
When a baby is born, the first question we ask….”Is it a boy or a girl?”
What if it’s neither?This documentary takes a look into the world of intersex people.
The 1 in 2000 of us whose bodies fall somewhere between male or female.
Intersexion looks beyond the shame and secrecy that defines many intersex births and explores how intersex people with their very different bodies navigate with their way through childhood,adolescence,relationships and adulthood,when they don’t fit the binary model of a solely male and female world.
Here comes another one that was my favorite.
A fantastic woman(2017).
Director : Sebastian Lelio.
Run time: 104 minutes.
Language: Spanish,With English subtitles.
Marina and Orlando are in love and planning for the future.Marina is a young waitress and aspiring singer.Orlando is 20 years older than her and owns a printing company. After celebrating Marina’s birthday ,one evening, Orlando falls seriously ill.Marina rushes him to the emergency room,but he passes away just after arriving at the hospital.Instead of being able to mourn her lover,suddenly Marina is treated with suspision.The doctors and Orlando’s family don’t trust her .A woman detective investigates Marina to see if she was involved in his death.Orlando’s ex-wife forbids her from attending the funeral to make matters worse Orlando’s son threatens to throw Marina out of the flat she shared with Orlando.Marina is a trans woman and for most of Orlando’s family,her sexual identity is an aberration,a perversion.Marina struggles the right to be herself.She battles the very same forces that has spent a lifetime fighting just to become the woman she is now a complex strong,forthright and fantastic woman.
Besides the movies and documentaries ,I met amazing people at the after party that happened at Heinrich Boll foundation. Music was performed by Dj Ray,Blvck Moon,Dj Rachael,Yellow light Machine and the ISHTAR DOLLS.
This made my November and given it’s the beginning of Sagittarius season ,I thought why not share my best moments.