Today, my Husband and I went to the Pan African Film Festival to look at 5 LGBT short stories entitled “Stories of Our Lives”.
The was presented by the Nest Collective after they published a book (http://www.thisisthenest.com/sool-book)
This book evolved in June 2013, when this Kenyan multidisciplinary group travelled across Kenya, recording over 250 personal accounts of persons identifying as GLBT and intersex in Kenya.
“The book presents a selection from the resulting archive – in an attempt to explore the consciousness, ambition and expression of many queer Kenyans in their daily interactions with family, friends, schools, workplace, religion and ideas of the future, and in diverse social contexts in Kenya. Through these stories, the self-representing queer Kenyan grants the reader permission to explore private and intimate worlds–where the vagaries of queer publicness, silence, intimacy, militancy and love happen.”
The makers of this film (banned in Kenya) faced criminal charges in that country.
The first story (Ask Me Nicely) tells of two lesbians of high school age who meet each other in school. One of them loves to wear trousers and her mother banned her from doing so, the other likes to wear conventional clothes. Their principal called them in the office to warn them that their displays of affection was abhorrent behavior. While away from the school, Kate impulsively has a sexual encounter with a boy in her neighborhood. Upon her return, Kate tells Faith about the encounter with the boy. This annoys Faith, leading to an end of their relationship. This is a moving and beautifully film in black and white (as they all are) and through the dingy scenery a bright light is shone in emerging lesbian lives.
The second story (Run) tells of Patrick stumbles upon a local gay bar while walking with his best friend, Kama. There are longing moments and bold curiosity by Patrick on this scene and a brusque and venomous anti gay spewing from Kama. Patrick later returns to the club for a night out, hoping no one will find out. (Remember, if you can. the excitement and apprehension when you went to your first LGBT bar?)
Kama spots Patrick leaving the bar, and they have a violent confrontation about it. Patrick has to run away to escape the fight.
The third story (Athman) shows that excruciating time in gay life where one develops a crush on a straight guy who finds out. You both work it to (or not).
Farm workers Ray and Athman have been close friends for years. Hurt by Athman’s flirtatious relationship with newcomer Fiona, Ray has an awkward conversation with Athman about their relationship. Athman reiterates that he isn’t interested in a sexual relationship with Ray. They reconcile, then Ray asks Athman whether he can kiss him. Athman is taken aback by the question and leaves, uncomfortable. The two reconcile again the next day, but Ray decides to leave the farm.
The fourth story (Duet) was my favorite partly since it stars a white and black couple who are attracted to each other.
Jeff – a researcher visiting the UK for a conference – hires escort Roman for an hour-long session in his hotel room. Roman arrives, and – sensing Jeff’s anxiety – attempts to calm him down. Jeff asks if they can talk a little before engaging in any physical activity. The two sit and have a conversation about inter-race relations. A cute scene shows them smelling act other’ “Black or white” fragrance.
Roman then offers to give Jeff a massage, which then leads to Jeff being less anxious. The two proceed to make out.
The last story (Each Night I Dream) is about Liz who visualizes dramatic escape plans for herself and partner Achi when local legislators threaten to enforce anti-gay laws. The crowd appears at their door, but they get the last showing them their bodies leaving us to wonder what their revaluation was?
All the production time, actors and actress are from Kenya and these shorts are a tremendous contribution.
Sources: PAFF, thisisnest.com, wikipedia