Outing of gays inspires bold Ugandan film

POLLY KAMUKAMA

The consequences of being publically outed as a homosexual in Uganda have become the subject of an audacious film due out in the coming months.

Aptly titled Outed, the feature film is inspired by real life incidents following the controversial publication of names and photographs of alleged gay people by two leading tabloids in 2011 and 2014.

A scene from the film depicting the brutal torture of gay people at the hands of Uganda Police

A scene from the film depicting the brutal torture of gay people at the hands of Uganda Police

On both occasions, the publications attracted worldwide condemnation and were blamed for inciting violent attacks against the victims.

Now, a group of young filmmakers have taken the bold step to relive these traumas in a film that is already being praised as a landmark effort towards the fight for LGBT rights in the notoriously homophobic country.

“I started doing research for this film in 2011 but didn’t get the courage to bring it to life until last year when one of my gay friends was brutally murdered by a mob after he was outed by one of the tabloids,” the film’s director, Hassan Kamoga alias Miracle, told this blog in an exclusive interview last week.

Polly Kamukama (R) interviewing Hassan Kamoga a.k.a Miracle

Polly Kamukama (R) interviewing Hassan Kamoga a.k.a Miracle

The 28-year-old filmmaker who is reluctant to disclose his own sexuality said that the mob falsely accused his friend of stealing a boda boda to justify their barbarity.

Kamoga thus decided to centre his film on a fictional character, Vida, a young secretly homosexual man enjoying a successful career in advertising.

After his personal details and sexuality are revealed in the media, Vida’s life turns tragic as he loses his job, gets kicked out of a house he rents and is brutally persecuted by law enforcers.

Miracle sips a cup of tea during his interview with The Critic last week.

Miracle sips a cup of tea during his interview with The Critic last week.

“We hope this will generate some fresh intellectual debate about the general status of gay people in Uganda particularly about the role of media in escalating their plight,” Kamoga said of his vision for the low-budget picture that stars 25-year-old actor Jeffery Agaba in the lead role.

A straight man, Agaba leads a ragtag cast of novice actors including activists and other members of the Ugandan LGBTI community in this daunting story that boasts great aesthetics.

The project however suffered major setbacks during production as everyone seemed not to want anything to do with a ‘gay’ film.

Actor Jeffery Agaba risked it all and took on the film's lead role, Vida, a young gay man on the run following his outing.

Actor Jeffery Agaba risked it all and took on the film’s lead role, Vida, a young gay man on the run following his outing.

Kamoga has told of how he was forced to keep the whole production process desecrate after some people accused him of peddling gay agenda. He also said many actors and partners had to pull out of the project out of fear for their own safety.

But with a self-funded shoestring budget of less than Shs10m and a few willing individuals, Kamoga and team weathered the storm and made the film that has already been hailed by the international community and gay rights activists.

Uganda’s notorious image as a homophobic country has soared in the wake of the anti-gay legislation which was signed into law in February last year only to be revoked six months later following drastic aid cutting by western funders.

A scene in the film shows Vida (C) being taken for interrogation by detectives.

A scene in the film shows Vida (C) being taken for interrogation by detectives.

Observers say the revocation and an earlier court ban on media outing of gays have slightly dampened down the level of hostility faced by the LGBT community in the country.

Ethics minister Fr Simon Lokodo however remains categorical in his denouncement of LGBT people whom he accuses of recruiting students and breaching the African culture.

According to Frank Mugisha, an internationally renowned Ugandan gay rights activist and lawyer, people of the LGBT orientation still face hostility from the law enforcers.

The film's official artwork shows a lonesome and bloodied Vida inside a torture chamber-like interrogation room.

The film’s official artwork shows a lonesome and bloodied Vida inside a torture chamber-like interrogation room.

He is however hopeful that the use of such mediums as film can go a long way in changing attitudes and mindsets.

The plight of Ugandan gays has already inspired a number of films and stage plays, most of which were foreign-backed.

Among the prominent ones is Call Me Kuchu, a semi-biopic on the slain gay rights pioneer David Kato, and God Loves Uganda, a tale of how American evangelists are fueling gay hatred in the country.

Outed has so far had one special screening in Kampala, and its producers are looking at touring gay-themed festivals across the world before the film can eventually have a grand premiere here before end of year.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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4 thoughts on “Outing of gays inspires bold Ugandan film

  1. Martin Nsubuga says:

    As someone in Uganda, how can I watch the Outed film in Uganda. does this mean the film was made for the international community?. Some how you said we wont have a premier in Uganda soon.

    • Namazi joan says:

      You can’t watch the film in Uganda because this fool are promoting homesexuality and I want to get money from the west.

  2. Namazi joan says:

    How comes this director can not disclose his own sexuality, what is he afraid of?. is he promoting homosexuality. We don’t want to watch this film in Uganda.

    • Rena says:

      Namazi you don’t want to watch it you and who?! I am certain its the reason why this film is relevant people like you need to see things from a broader perspective. Did you like Amin, did the world like him; no but why was a film about him made? Answer yourself. I am not gay but I love good stories, horrible, fictitious, factual inspirational whatever as long as its plotted. Its why we all fell for Michael Scofield in prison break,

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