Kenyan gay-themed movie ‘I Am Samuel’ has premiered at the London Film Festival.
The film directed by Peter Murimi was screened at the festival on Saturday and becomes the second Kenyan movie depicting a same-sex relationship to premier on a global stage after ‘Rafiki’ by Wanuri Kahiu.
‘I Am Samuel’ is about a gay couple struggling for acceptance in Kenya in the face of religious and cultural conservatism.
It tells the story of Samuel and Alex, a gay couple from humble backgrounds living in Nairobi and part of a community of fellow queer men. Samuel struggles to win acceptance of his relationship from his own family, who live on a farm in Western Kenya.
Murimi believes ‘I Am Samuel’ and other gay-themed films can make LGBTQ rights a mainstream issue in Kenya and Africa.
“The role Hollywood played in furthering LBGTQ rights in the United States was really big, it cannot be understated,” Murimi told AFP.
“You could just see gay people on TV and in Hollywood, and slowly and slowly it became much easier (for them). They say ‘you win the hearts, and once the hearts are won the law is irrelevant’,” he added.
The 42-year-old is a multiple award-winning director known for tackling complex social issues. He believes Kenyans are increasingly becoming more tolerant of homosexuality despite being illegal in the country.
“In the last 10 years (LGBTQ rights have) really actually been making a lot of strides in a positive way. So we’ll just try our best and hopefully, Kenyans will see it and that’s what we want.”
Murimi says he wanted to create something that parents can relate to and broadening the number of people who could appreciate the film.
“This film I hope can do that because it is not an ‘us against them’. It’s very nuanced, it’s very balanced, it’s a story about a family that is struggling with this issue, having a gay son,” he explained.
“There are so many fathers whose children are gay that will relate to this film. There are so many people whose brother or sister is gay and will connect with this film.”