Nigerian's First LGBTQ Movie, 'Ife', Set for Release

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A Nigerian LGBTQ right advocate, Pamela Adie, is set to release the first-ever pro-lesbian movie in Nigeria titled 'Ife'.

The story revolves around two lesbian partners, Ife and Adaora, who fell in love and struggled through the challenges of being in a same-sex relationship in Nigeria.

The movie directed by Uyai Ikpe-Etim is set to change the narrative and the representation of LGBT (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) in Nollywood.

The story

The producer, Pamela Adie, told PREMIUM TIMES that the portrayal of same-sex relations in Nollywood is not the reality of everybody and their stories, especially lesbians, need to be told.

"We only see stories about LGBT people that condemn us, to say that we are people to be beaten, sometimes even killed. That is the kind of narrative that we get from Nollywood but that is not the reality. We are human beings too, just like everybody else.

"The idea was just to show that we are normal people who fall in love, who have their hearts broken, who break hearts, who have troubles, who triumph. We also aim to increase the visibility of the community, to tell the lesbian story too and to drive social acceptance," she said.

Ms Adie said that creating the project was easy for her and she had enough hands who were ready to work for her.

She said, "We didn't really struggle to find actresses to play the roles. One of them already knew we wanted her to work for us, the other one was found through a call for an actor. We sent out an invitation for auditions and we added in our call what exactly we were looking for. She came for the audition and we were impressed.

"For the crew, most of the heads of department were people that I already knew and I have been building a relationship with for a long time. They are people that understand my vision, where I am going with the movie. It was just a matter of a phone call or a personal message to say, hey it's time to make that movie that I talked about."

DoP Speaks

The project's Director of Photography, Oluseyi Asurf, also spoke to this newspaper about his perspective of the storyline and why he took the job.

Mr Asurf said he didn't think about rejecting the job because he had once produced an LGBT short movie, 'Hell or High Waters'.

"I think every story is worth being heard. It is my job as a storyteller, this is what I do. These are stories of real people, I know a few people that live like that with these challenges. I feel like their stories need to be heard. When I got this script, I felt really excited about it," he said.

Talking about the probable acceptance of the movie, Mr Asurf said people often judge Nigerians before they actually react to things and their reactions cannot be gauged before something happens.

"When I was trying to make 'Hell or High Waters', there were some blocks like casting, it was difficult to get people who were difficult to play the roles but I eventually got someone.

"When we finished, it felt like things were going to happen but nothing did. Nigerians are also humans. The day you remove the homophobic law that we have in Nigeria, you will realise how much of LGBT people we have in this country," he said.

He added that when his gay movie finally came out, it was pitched across different film festivals outside the country and it got great feedback.

Acceptance

The Same-Sex Prohibition Act, signed into law in 2014, prohibits marriage or any form of sexual relations between same sexes. Defaulters are liable to serve a jail term ranging between 10 - 14 years.

Ms Adie said the movie is going to be released regardless of the belief of Nigerians who do not accept same-sex relationships. She said the movie has received massive approval from Nigerians since it was unveiled a week ago.

"We are not really concerned about people who don't like it. If you don't like it, don't like it, there is nothing we can do about that. When we released the poster a week ago, the reception we got was just amazing. People have been calling us about it.

We are not worried about any backlash. I mean, some people may not like it, not everybody will like what you like and that's okay," she said.

Release

The trailer of the movie will be out on Wednesday, July 15. The release date is undecided.

The producer told this newspaper that the movie is not going to be released on YouTube or any indigenous streaming platform.

"It's not going to be on YouTube, we are building our own platform where people can pay to watch movies like an on-demand streaming platform. Maybe if Netflix decides to show it after a year of release, why not? For now, we don't plan to release it on any other site.

"I intend to make more films that centre stories about LGBTQ people, particularly Nigerian lesbian, bisexual, and queer women," she said.

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