Call Me Kuchu – review

“Kuchu” is the synonym for a member of the gay community in Uganda, a country where homosexuality is considered inherently evil and punishable by the three greatest powers: the government, the church and the media.

This award-winning documentary follows David Kato (the country’s first openly gay man) and other Kuchu’s as they fight against the anti-homosexuality bill (also known as the “Kill the Gays” bill), something that would expand the laws to mean life imprisonment for gay activity, and the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality and for HIV positive men.

The film tries to balance this serious subject matter with moments of comic relief, where we see Kuchu’s flexing their sensuality, but like the heavy weight resting on their minds the film cannot help but return to the hardship they face.

It really is a film of sharing stories. Each works to prove that the Kuchu’s exist as a community, with the protagonists offering snippets of their troubled lives; as Naome says in one despairing moment, “What are we going to do?”

Kato, the key character here, is a fantastic orator and a truly vibrant central figure. This makes the great opposition he faces even more unlikeable, and ensures that the work the Kuchu’s are doing resonates with you on a more personal level.

Thus, the film ultimately turns into less of a recording of the injustice going on in Uganda and becomes more of a testament to the brilliant work of David Kato. It has rightly won awards at documentary film festivals and lesbian and gay film festivals, with its highest accolade being the Teddy award at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.

As the film was only shown briefly in cinemas, it’s recommended you catch this one on DVD if you want to find out more about this highly important topic. It really shows the power of cinema in telling the stories of those that seem non-existent and truly keeps them alive. In Kato’s words: “They keep saying we are not here. But as of late, we are here.”


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August 2022
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