Issues of being a known gay Ugandan are the main subject in local film maker Hassan Kamoga’s Outed: The Painful Reality.
The film is inspired by real life events that followed a controversial publication by one Rolling Stone, then a tabloid in Kampala – a headline at the time wasn’t only naming, but had pictures of Ugandan men suspected to homosexuals.
Outed has been in production for nearly four years, though Kamoga confirms he was both reluctant and afraid to pursue the topic then, however, when a gay friend of his was murdered under unclear circumstances, he chose to persue the mater in a way he best understands – film.
The low budget film quietly premiered in March in an undisclosed Ugandan location but to a smaller audience, this was happening only weeks after another pro-gay film had been banned in Kenya and at a moment when the country is still under pressure for its anti-gay stand.
In fact, even with the waves it’s making across the globe, Outed is notoriously not famous among local film enthusiasts.
Outed is part of the many films that have been selected to screen at this year’s qFLIXphiladephia Film Festival – an event famously known for showcasing art about LGBT rights.
According to Kamoga, he’s happy that the film is screening because it may be a chance to reopen the debate about the rights of gay Ugandan people.
It is based on a fictional character Vida, a young secretly gay man enjoying a successful career in advertising.
After his personal details are splashed in the media, Vida loses everything – the job, friends, family and eventually ends up in jail.
“We hope this will generate fresh intellectual debate about the matter and the role of media in promoting Human rights for all,” he says.
Actor Jeffrey Agaba plays the leads the cast in the film which also features different Ugandan LGBT activists.
Kamoga notes that during production, there was a lot of backlash as many local actors were afraid of being associated with the film; he was also forced to be discreet about the project since that could have put both the project and his life in danger.
However, Kamoga’s journey to Philadephia was a funny one to, much as the festival was willing to give his project a world premiere, the independent film maker didn’t have the financial muscle to cater for his transport fares and accommodation.
This saw the organizers use their website to crowd fund over $2000 to take all that out of the way. Shortly after the premiere on saturday, Kamoga will talk to the festival goers about dangers, gay Ugandans go through especially in a country where the sex orientation is criminal.
Founded in 2014 as a new festival, with new media and a new attitude, qFLIXphiladelphia is rooted in 20 years of LGBTQ film festival leadership.
The festival has vision is to preserve the tradition of the exhibition of American and international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer independent film in the Philadelphia region.
Even when the anti-gay bill was revoked six months after its signing, Uganda is still considered one of the most homophobic African countries. The film premieres at the time the World is joining America in the gay pride celebrations after such marriages were recognized as legal in about 50 American states.
Last week, Mozambique became one of the first African countries to lift their ban on gay relationships.