In an unmarked office on the outskirts of Kampala, veteran activist David Kato labors to repeal Uganda’s homophobic laws and liberate his fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, or “kuchus.” But David’s formidable task just became much more difficult.
A new “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” proposes death for HIV-positive gay men, and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual. Inspired by American evangelicals who have christened Uganda ground zero in their war on the “homosexual agenda,” the bill awaits debate in Parliament. Meanwhile, the country’s newspapers are outing kuchus under headlines such as: “HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City.”
David is one of the few who dare to publicly protest the country’s government and press. Working with an idiosyncratic clan of fellow activists, he fights for Kampala’s kuchus on Ugandan television, at the United Nations, and in the courts. Because, he insists, “if we keep on hiding, they will say we are not here.”
But just three weeks after a landmark legal victory, David is found bludgeoned to death in his home. His murder resounds around the world, and leaves Kampala’s kuchus traumatized and seeking answers for a way forward.
With unprecedented access, CALL ME KUCHU explores a community that is at once persecuted and consoled by the Christian faith, and examines the astounding courage and determination required not only to battle an oppressive government, but also to maintain religious conviction in the face of the contradicting rhetoric of a powerful national church.
Call Me Kuchu tells the story of the life and death of Uganda's first openly gay man. At a time when an Anti-Homosexuality Bill is pending in Uganda's parliament, the film follows David Kato and three fellow activists, documenting their daily lives, their courageous work to combat persecution, and eventually the brutal and tragic murder that sends shock waves throughout the world.
Call Me Kuchu is the best documentary that I have seen at the Berlinale. I knew going into the movie that it had something to do with gay rights in Uganda and I wrote that I imagined I would just sit through it shaking my head at one sob story after another. What I experienced was so different. I love documentaries and this film uses that format so well. It is paced like a mystery unfolding. No one comes on screen without adding something to the fullness of your understanding and nothing is redundant.
Since extensive footage was taken, there was a diversity of people that are featured is impressive. The filming took place over the course of almost 2 years so they were able witness events as well as record stories allowing the audience to see the tension building with the passage of time. Because Uganda is currently ground zero for gay rights, this movie gives witness to an issue that has fueled the sense of justice in the worldwide community.
The film opens with a subdued anniversary celebration of two gay men and sets the scene for many gatherings to come. The people are happy but always keep a watchful eye on the high walls that surround them, enabling to be free but only while hidden. Exposure is always a lurking threat that means losing their jobs, housing, families and sometimes their life. Outing homosexuals is big business for The Rolling Stone which is led by a bigoted man who feels he has a mandate from God to rid Uganda from homosexuals. In a world where homosexuality is a crime and gay is taken to mean pedophile, those whose names are published in the paper are left to a dangerous fate.