Call Me Kuchu
Directed by Katherine Fairfax. US. 2012. NR. 90 minutes. Human Rights Watch Film Festival. DVD.
Sun., January 13, 2013
“Uganda’s institutionalised homophobia would be the stuff of parody if it weren’t a matter of life and death. Foaming Christian preachers denounce gay people as violent rapists, a local tabloid prints photos and addresses of suspected “kuchus” (homosexuals), and even links them to al-Qaida, protesters wave placards reading “Africans unite against sodomy”, and politicians draft a bill threatening imprisonment for citizens who fail to report gay people within 24 hours. Medieval Europe was progressive by comparison. This intimate but level-headed documentary empathises with the handful of gay and lesbian activists openly standing up for their rights, but we also hear from the other side, whose hatred and bigotry suggest deeper pathologies, and whose methods terrifyingly illustrate the mechanics of mob incitement. The smirking, unrepentant editor of the aforementioned tabloid is particularly stomach-churning, “Human rights do not mean gay rights. Especially in Uganda,” he says. What’s really at stake is underlined when one of the film’s subjects is shockingly killed. The palpable sense of loss and grief testify to how the film-makers have turned what could have been a detached news report into a moving human tragedy.” (Steve Rose, The Guardian)