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Movie Review: Call Me Kuchu

August 16, 2013

Call Me Kuchu PosterCall Me Kuchu – A KinoSmith Release

http://callmekuchu.com

Release Date: August 16th, 2013 @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Rated 14A for mature themes and disturbing content

Running time: 87 minutes

Katherine Fairfax Wright (dir.)

Malika Zouhali-Worrall (dir.)

Katherine Fairfax Wright (writer)

Malika Zouhali-Worrall (writer)

Jonathan Mandabach (music)

David Kato as Himself

Naome Ruzindana as Herself

Bishop Senyonjo as Himself

Stosh Mugisha as Herself

Long Jones as Himself

Lydia Kato as Herself

Call Me Kuchu

©KinoSmith.  All Rights Reserved.

Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato spends time with his mother in Call Me Kuchu.

Our reviews below:

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Call Me Kuchu Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Awarded Best International Feature at Hot Docs back in 2012, the limited release of the remarkably powerful documentary Call Me Kuchu couldn’t have come at a more relevant time, especially in the wake of the unfortunate laws that have come to pass in Russia.

At the beginning of Call Me Kuchu, we see two men celebrating their ninth anniversary together, having to do things privately because they aren’t accepted in their village.  Directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, the film shows us the struggles that LGBT people face everyday in Uganda, including outspoken gay activist David Kato and his lesbian friend Naome Ruzindana.  Their backwards government is trying desperately to pass a law that will make homosexuality illegal and even punishable by death, and their lives are constantly being threatened by vigilantes as their pictures are published by a dangerously homophobic tabloid.

Not only does Call Me Kuchu do a good job of introducing us to the unfortunate politics of Uganda, but the film also excels at showing us the people that these laws affect in an honest light.  Both sides have faith and openly express their religion, some using their beliefs to promote love and acceptance of everyone, the others to justify their homophobia.  For about the first hour of the film, the subjects speak candidly about their lives, and we become really invested in their stories as we watch them do everything they can to stand up for their rights.  The third act is even more heartbreaking as the story takes a tragic turn, and the documentary becomes deeply moving in a way that hits hard.

How could anyone watch a documentary like Call Me Kuchu and still judge other people based on sexual orientation?  This is a powerful portrait of genuinely good people who are trying to make the best of their lives in a country where it’s tragically considered unacceptable to be themselves, and the message of equality is incredibly relevant.

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Call Me Kuchu Review by Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

In Uganda, it is illegal to be homosexual.  Call Me Kuchu profiles the fight for freedom led by David Kato – Uganda’s first openly gay man.  He and the activists who work with him are leading the fight to try to stop a new bill from being passed that will make even knowing a person who is gay a crime punishable by imprisonment, and sometimes death to the person who is homosexual.

As the film goes on, we meet several people living in Uganda, who are openly LGBTI.  As they tell their stories and their struggle to be accepted as they are, we watch as they are outed by local newspapers and threatened for the work that they are doing.  Interviews with the newspaper editor and others who are against them provides a stark contrast, much like the one seen in another documentary with similar themes, Valentine Road.

Call Me Kuchu starts as a profile of a fight for freedom and justice, but documentaries like this have to follow the story unfolding in front of them, and in the last act the film takes a tragic turn.  In the wake of this tragedy though, the people working for freedom for all in Uganda continue the fight for liberation.

The film is definitely worth seeing for all those interested in Human Rights issues.  It is a powerful look at real discrimination that is rampant in many parts of the world.

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Call Me Kuchu Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Call Me Kuchu is a heartbreaking yet powerful documentary about the life threatening challenges that gay people in Uganda face each day.  The film begins with a couple celebrating their 9th anniversary of being together.  However, due to the dangers facing gay people in Uganda, the couple must remain low key.

Because in Uganda, gay people can face life imprisonment, and one MP has created a law that allows hanging as a penalty for gay relationships.  Anyone who knows a person who is gay must out them, or face imprisonment themselves.  The local tabloid, Rolling Stone, even has undercover reporters whose job it is to out gay people, putting their lives at risk.

But these human rights abuses don’t deter activists from speaking out.  Gay activist David Kato, along with friends Naome, Stosh and Long Jones, are suing Rolling Stone for putting people in danger and publishing hate propaganda.  These activists are inspiring, as they hold onto their faith, despite the oppression they have faced.  The film takes a tragic turn when one of them is murdered.  However, this horrific incident brings the issue of homophobia in Uganda to the world’s attention, sparking protests, online petitions and even world leaders and UN ambassadors to demand that the homophobia stops.

Call Me Kuchu points out that homophobia is not a Ugandan invention.  Homophobia is an idea brought on by Western religious fanatics, who blame the LGBT community for everything from AIDS, to child abuse and even terrorism caused by Al Quada.  These fanatics do not reflect true Christianity, which promotes love and acceptance of all people, just the way God made them.  The kind Bishop Senyonjo, who runs a shelter for anyone in the LGBT community, says that we are all one in Christ.  Jesus didn’t discriminate against people, and neither should we.

Call Me Kuchu is a hard film to watch, as it deals with the topic of people being abused and even killed because they naturally love in a way that is different from the majority.  However, this is an important film that should be shown in high schools, churches and any other institutions.  Call Me Kuchu is an impassioned plea to end all forms of bigotry.

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Call Me Kuchu Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Named Best international Feature at Toronto’s Hot Docs in 2012, Call Me Kuchu is a powerful and inspiring documentary highlighting the work of gay activists fighting the tragic treatment of the LGBT community in Uganda.

The film opens with a low-key cake and candles backyard gathering of friends celebrating one couple’s 9th anniversary together.  Leading the celebration are gay activists Naome Ruzindana and the unnoficial head of their group, David Kato.  The scene is contrasted with footage of a nearby religious rally proclaiming the “sinfulness” of homosexuality and the need for tougher laws to stop the “sinners.”

The interviews with the key members of the activist group are honest, touching and often heartbreaking.  David, Naome and their other friends Stosh and Long Jones are all surprisingly hopeful, despite their realization that their lives are in danger for speaking out.  Their belief in a God who loves them unconditionally is a refreshing contrast to the outspoken evangelical pastors who want them gone from Uganda.  Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who openly supports and assists the activists, is also a refreshing presence.

The biggest challenge David, Naome and the others face is the public campaign by a Ugandan tabloid called Rolling Stone whose managing editor “outs” various activists and other gays in order to pressure them to leave and gain support for the government bill that will severely penalize anyone connected to the LGBT community.  The activists work hard to get the courts to listen to their complaints against Rolling Stone and even manage to get United Nations support.

The story takes a tragic turn when a key activist is murdered, sparking outrage around the world with government leaders denouncing Uganda’s proposed laws.  Filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall handle the tragedy with sensitivity and honesty.  Call Me Kuchu never feels exploitative.

This is an informative and inspiring documentary that is timely in light of news about Russia’s anti-gay laws and the 2014 Winter Olympics.  No matter what your stance on same sex marriage, Call Me Kuchu is bound to move you.

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Call Me Kuchu Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Call Me Kuchu is a documentary on the struggle for LGBT rights in Uganda, where only albinos routinely butchered for body parts used in folk remedies are more at risk. As in most places, queers living discreetly were traditionally ignored or at best tolerated until recent campaigns, encouraged by African and American religious leaders, accusing them of child abuse and other crimes and outing them in a Kampala tabloid called Rolling Stone. A pending bill would criminalize homosexuality with the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and even a three year prison term for those failing to report them, including family members, within 24 hours.

During the film we get to know several activists and their antagonists, particularly David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man. Two women, Naome and Stosh, also share their struggle, along with the cheerful Long Jones and Anglican bishop Christopher Senyonjo relieved of his official duties for ministering to the LGBT community in a true Christian spirit. The Rolling Stone editor and some MPs are given a chance to air their all too popular side, pitting Uganda’s morality against the gay “depravity” of western culture.

The film builds to a tragic climax, leaving little hope in the short term but increasing resolve for future generations, voiced in the slogan “A lute continua” (The fight goes on).

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Consensus: Following the LGBT community in Uganda as an unfortunate law is being passed to make homosexuality illegal, Call Me Kuchu is a powerful and heartbreaking documentary that offers an inspiring message of acceptance.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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