Stories of Our Lives—An Anthology Film (2014)
On June 30, 2013, we began collecting and archiving the stories of persons identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex from Kenya. We called this project 'Stories of Our Lives' (the resulting archive is contained in this book) - and we wanted to do this project for many reasons, but mostly because we wanted to tell stories that are not often heard, stories that characterize the queer experience in Kenya.
After several months of touring and collecting hundreds of vivid, compelling stories, we decided to turn some of these stories into short films. We wrote the scripts based on some of the stories we’d recorded, and we shot the films over the course of eight months using ourselves as the crew. The resulting shorts were strung together into this: an anthology film based on true stories about queer life in Kenya, and our first feature film as a collective in Partnership with Uhai/EASHRI and Big World Cinema.
Directed by Jim Chuchu
Screenplay by Jim Chuchu and Njoki Ngumi
Produced by Wangechi Ngugi
Starring Kelly Gichohi, Paul Ogola, Tim Mutungi, Mugambi Nthiga, Rose Njenga,
Janice Mugo, Allan Weku, Maina Olwenya, Louis Brooke and Judy Gichohi
Executive Produced by George Gachara and Steven Markovitz
Cinematography and Edit by Dan Muchina and Jim Chuchu
Production Design and Wardrobe by Sunny Dolat
Sound by Mars Maasai and Noel Kasyoka
Berlin International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
BFI Flare (London LGBT Film Festival)
MoMA Documentary Fortnight 2015 (New York City)
Movies That Matter 2015 (The Hague)
Roze Filmdagen (Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival)
Durban International Film Festival
Istanbul International Independent Film Festival
Rio International Film Festival
Frameline Film Festival (San Francisco)
Outfest (Los Angeles)
Seattle LGBT Film Festival
Queer Film Fest (Johannesburg)
Harlem International Film Festival
Seoul International Women's Film Festival
Stockholm International Film Festival
The New York African Film Festival
Helsinki African Film Festival
Hamburg Queer Film Festival
Taiwan Queer Film Festival
Film Africa (London)
International Film Festival of Kerala
Awards and Nominations—
Winner - Teddy Special Jury Award
(Berlin International Film Festival)
Winner - Jury Award (Hamburg
International Queer Film Festival)
Winner - Audience Award for Best International Feature Film (MixBrazil Festival)
Winner - Special Programming Award for Freedom (Outfest LA)
Winner - Best Film as chosen by the Volunteer of the Year Award (Frameline Film Festival)
Winner - Audience Award (GAZE Film Festival)
Winner - African Union Foundation Audience Award (FilmAfrica)
2nd Place - Panorama Audience Award
(Berlin International Film Festival)
Honourable Mention - Best Narrative Feature (TLVFest)
Honourable Mention for First Feature Jury Award (Frameline Film Festival)
Nominee - Tulip Human Rights Award, Foreign Affairs (Netherlands)
A series of five vignettes based on true stories collected for the Stories Of Our Lives project.
ASK ME NICELY
Kate, a rebellious young high school student, meets first-love Faith, a fellow student. When school authorities separate the two, Kate impulsively has a sexual encounter with a boy in her neighborhood. Two weeks later, Kate and Faith have an awkward reunion.
After negotiating a business deal, Patrick stumbles upon a local gay bar with his homophobic best friend, Kama. Patrick later returns to the club for a night out, hoping no one will find out.
Farm workers Ray and Athman have been close friends for years. Hurt by Athman’s flirtatious relationship with newcomer Fiona, Ray has to make a difficult choice.
Jeff is waiting in a hotel room far away from home. He has been saving for months to fulfill his ultimate fantasy of having sex with a white guy. Finally, there is a knock at the door.
EACH NIGHT I DREAM
When local legislators threaten to enforce anti-gay laws, mobs gather to evict people suspected of being homosexuals. As tension in their neighborhood increases, Liz visualizes dramatic escape plans for herself and partner Achi.
Press and Reviews—
"A fresh, warm, visually ravishing look at queer life in East Africa."
- Hollywood Reporter
"Stories of Our Lives is both a labour of love and a bold act of militancy, defying the enforced silence of intolerance with tales rooted in the soil of lived experience."
- Toronto International Film Festival
"Stories of Our Lives is a gorgeously constructed tone-poem that taps into something deeply universal: the desire to belong, the impulse to feel wanted and needed and free. One of the most triumphant and stunning films of the year."
- Huffington Post
"This is a beautiful little film about love, about humanity, about one of the many facets of what it means to be African."
The New Movie 'Stories of Our Lives' Dispels the Myths Fueling Kenya's Homophobia (Interview with VICE)
"The film...has obscenity, explicit scenes of sexual activities and it promotes homosexuality which is contrary to our national norms and values."
- The Kenya Film Classification Board, in a letter to us banning the film from public and private screenings in Kenya