Kenyans will not be allowed to view the critically acclaimed documentary film I Am Samuel, because it has been restricted by the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB), the producers have said.
According to a statement, the 52-minute documentary, shot over five years, gives an intimate picture of love, family, and affirmation in the lives of LGBTQ Kenyans.
“It tells the story of Samuel, who lives and works in Nairobi, and his partner, Alex, as well as Samuel’s relationship with his parents, traditional farmers who are keen for him to get married and settle down,” the statement added.
The film is directed and produced by multiple award winning filmmaker Pete Murimi (2021 International Emmy nominee, 2019 Rock Peck Award winner) and produced by Toni Kamau of We are not the machine (2021 Emmy, PGA, Peabody nominee and Member of the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences).
“This film is important because it will allow Kenyans to have constructive dialogue about LGBTQ rights in Kenya. The film demonstrates how much we have in common. We all fall in love, we all contend with family expectations…the biggest difference is, Samuel, our main character had to also reckon with homophobia and violence,” said Pete Murimi. “We are very privileged that Samuel invited us into his life and allowed us to share it with the world. We are also grateful to his parents for opening up their home to us.”
Kenyan law criminalises same-sex intimacy, with up to 14 years in prison for what it describes as ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’.
The film premiered at Canada’s Hot Docs Documentary Festival in 2020, and has been screened at more than 25 festivals around the world, including the BFI London Film Festival, New York’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa in 2021.
The documentary will be distributed across the African continent by AfriDocs, a South African based platform, and will continue to be available for African audiences to watch for free on www.afridocs.net, starting in October 2021. I Am Samuel is distributed in the US and UK by Bohemia Media.
Speaking on the restriction, Toni Kamau said, “It is unfortunate that a film that so clearly depicts the life of a normal Kenyan man would be restricted in Kenya. The film shows that life and its struggles are truly the same for us all, regardless of our sexuality.”