Two Nigerian filmmakers risking jail with lesbian movie
Two Nigerian filmmakers face the prospect of imprisonment if they ignore the stern warning of the authorities and proceed with the release of a movie about a lesbian relationship.
The dramatic face-off with the regulators – the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) – is worthy of a film itself.
Producer Pamela Adie and director Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim are determined that Ife (meaning “love” in the Yoruba language) reaches a Nigerian audience, but the NFVCB says it will not be approved as it violates the country’s strict laws on homosexuality.
To get around this, the filmmakers are planning a surprise online release to catch the regulators off-guard. The NFVCB, however, is diligently monitoring all digital platforms to prevent the movie from getting out.
According to NFVCB boss Adebayo Thomas, Adie and Ikpe-Etim could be jailed for promoting homosexuality in a country where same-sex relationships are forbidden and can carry a 14-year sentence.
They are organising a private screening in the commercial capital, Lagos, at the end of the month, for which they believe they do not need to get permission.
Ife will also get an international premiere in Canada in October.
Ife is a story about two women falling in love as they spend three days together. They “then have their love tested by the realities of being in a same-sex relationship in a country like Nigeria”, according to the publicity for the film.
Homosexuality is an extremely contentious issue in many parts of Africa and Nigeria is no different.
It is a highly religious and traditional society and its influential Christian and Muslim organisations oppose homosexuality.
As a consequence, Nigeria is one of 30 countries on the continent where it is criminalised.
Ife certainly pushes the boundaries of telling the LGBT story by Nigerian movie standards.