Movie Review: “Call Me Kuchu”

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 10:30 am.

(Photo: Courtesy CINDIGM Pictures)

Summary: A documentary about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda and how it’s affecting the country’s citizens — straight and gay.

Review: If there is one documentary to see, it’s Call Me Kuchu, directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, the movie deserves every ounce of its critical acclaim. The bold film tells the horrific story of a country being torn apart by homophobia. Chronicling over a year in Uganda, LGBT individuals are harassed demonized, murdered and accused of being terrorists — as are LGBT allies. White preachers from the west are encouraging anti-gay laws to be Uganda’s platform — not poverty, not HIV rates, not corruption in the government — but gays.

The well-publicized Anti-Homosexuality Bill includes: requiring teachers, parents and doctors to report LGBT children, banning landlords from providing lodging to LGBT individuals, putting anyone perceived to be homosexual at risk of incarceration, banning LGBT people (or people who are believed to be LGBT) who are HIV-positive from receiving treatment and more. Call Me Kuchu exquisitely puts a human face to those who are affected by the laws and hate, including David Kato — an LGBT activist who was violently murdered in his home.

Call Me Kuchu is not just a doc with only Uganda’s LGBT community speaking out. The other side of the debate is presented from preachers, lawmakers and citizens. Even though their perspective is disturbingly hateful, putting a face to the homophobes was paramount to understanding the country’s prejudices. For example, the managing editor of Ugandan paper Rolling Stone beams with joy when he talks about the 100 pictures printed in the newspaper of people who were allegedly gay. “I think Ugandans are interested in looking at pictures of homosexuals,” he said with a laugh. Even when David Kato was murdered, the editor was just as cheery, reconciling that gays get what they deserve.

In addition, the film breaks down the beginnings of Uganda’s anti-gay laws from white preachers from America who introduced the bill to the country’s roots of colonization — quickly debunking the myth that homosexuality is “un-African” and magically imported from Europe.

Call Me Kuchu wonderfully highlights the resiliency of Uganda’s LGBT people and their allies.  These are not sad, ruined people who are giving up on equal rights — they are fighting to death. The movie is simultaneously difficult to watch and a must-see. Many people think homophobia solely affects the LGBT community, but the Cinedigm film proves hate permeates and manifests beyond its bounds.  The flick implores us to turn the mirrors on ourselves and question the injustices we are upholding.

Call Me Kuchu opens in theaters in New York City on Friday, June 14 and Los Angeles on Friday, June 21.

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