As already noted in a previous review post, S&A isn't attending the Berlin International Film Festival this year (although I'm planning on it for 2013), but thankfully an S&A reader, Denise VanDeCruze (The Mic Movement – Amplifying Art In Berlin & Beyond) is there, and offered to write up some reviews for me to share here.
A few days ago, I posted reviews for 2 films that have been profiled/covered here on S&A: Indignados, which stars newcomer Mamebetty Honoré Diallo as Betty, a young undocumented immigrant from the African continent (although the synop doesn't say what country exactly; however, given her real name, I'd guess Senegal), travelling along the edge of the borders of a Europe on the verge of collapse in terms of its social cohesion; and Epoir Voyage (Voyage Of Hope) by Burkinabe filmmaker Michel K Zongo, a documentary feature centered on the directors search to understand his dead brother's reasons for leaving home at a young age, following a path from Burkina Faso to Côte d'Ivoire.
Read what that post HERE if you missed it.
Otherwise, here's another review from Denise – this one for a documentary titled Call me Kuchu (about Uganda’s first openly gay man, and activist, David Kato, and the aftermath of his brutal murder last year) which just won the Teddy Award (spotlighting LGBT films in the festival) at Berlin for Best Documentary, and which Denise called the best documentary that she's have seen at the Berlinale. But I'll let her tell the story:
Call Me Kuchu is the best documentary that I have seen at the Berlinales. I knew going into the movie that it had something to do with gay rights in Uganda and I wrote that I imagined I would just sit through it shaking my head at one sob story after another. What I experienced was so different. I love documentaries and this film uses that format so well. It is paced like a mystery unfolding. No one comes on screen without adding something to the fullness of your understanding and nothing is redundant.
Since extensive footage was taken, there was a diversity of people that are featured is impressive. The filming took place over the course of almost 2 years so they were able witness events as well as record stories allowing the audience to see the tension building with the passage of time. Because Uganda is currently ground zero for gay rights, this movie gives witness to an issue that has fueled the sense of justice in the worldwide community.
The film opens with a subdued anniversary celebration of two gay men and sets the scene for many gatherings to come. The people are happy but always keep a watchful eye on the high walls that surround them, enabling to be free but only while hidden. Exposure is always a lurking threat that means losing their jobs, housing, families and sometimes their life. Outing homosexuals is big business for The Rolling Stone which is led by a bigoted man who feels he has a mandate from God to rid Uganda from homosexuals. In a world where homosexuality is a crime and gay is taken to mean pedophile, those whose names are published in the paper are left to a dangerous fate.
The candid statements of bias and bigotry against homesexual make it clear that the overwhelming feeling is that homophobia is nothing to be ashamed about. Homophobia has been branded as an acceptable form expression of African and Christian identity in Uganda. Many are willing to destroy their own countrymen in an effort to save the soul of their country. It brings up questions about what is western and what is African. Things that are perceived as Western are bad and things that are perceived as African are good. The church has used this thinking to paint homosexuality as the “western corruption” and Christianity as “African goodness.” Although this rhetoric flies in the face of the historical record, it has mainstream acceptance.
That's just a piece of it; to read the rest of Denise's review, click HERE.
Watch a trailer for Call Me Kuchu below (full poster underneath):