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Review: Call Me Kuchu

October 30, 2012

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


There are so many silent voices around the world that are finally getting their moment to speak out by almost accidental circumstances. The documentary Call Me Kuchu is a perfect example of how a widely controversial topic can gain some noise when discussed through an art form.

Although talking about gay rights in this day and age might seem like old news, it’s still a very different thing in Uganda. Following around a bunch of open LGBT individuals, filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall just happened to be in Kampala at the time Kato and the Rolling Stone had their court case, which instantaneously lead to Kato’s murder. We get a first-hand view of how the death of one memorable figure can cause a whirlwind shift around the world.

Although at times the film could get lengthy, and the quality of the filmmaking is a bit uncomfortable, the people exposed have so much depth in their personalities that you are instantly sucked in to their terrifying life of constant hiding, no protection, and just an overall discomfort felt by their own peers. It is bewildering to hear the editor of the local tabloid magazine say bluntly on-screen that he has no problem invading someone’s personal space for the entertainment of others.

I particularly like the one girl Naome who openly shares her personal story and magically brings others out with her warm touch. The magnitude of injustice put against them from the press and American Christian fundamentalist organizations makes her strength nearly impossible to believe, seeing her break down barriers in the most difficult people and draw out a common ground. Witnessing this epic movement, especially in the latter half of the documentary, is an experience we rarely get these days in the theatre.

What really drew me in was the innocence in the film-making. The directors basically had no idea what they were running into as they followed this out-lawed community around their day-to-day fight for freedom. These people will grow on you, and once again we will be reminded about our own ability to both abuse and nurture our own species.

Since this documentary was so awkwardly pieced together by a fascinating series of events, it became way more than just an expose about the daily lives of a group of people. Wright and Zouhall-Worrall were in the midst of a massive change in thought that gained International status as things got grimmer for the activists in Kampala. You’ll be surprised at the multitude of things that happen throughout these few years, but more importantly, you’ll be impressed with the reactions that follow.

Amanda Chen.

Call Me Kuchu is released Friday 2nd November in the UK.