Nigeria’s first lesbian film
A movie about two Nigerian women who fall in love after three dates, interesting right?
The Nigerian movie, ‘Ife’ (which means love in Nigerian indigenous language, Yoruba) tells a story of two young lesbians who try to navigate life as members of the queer community in Nigeria. From the ugly stares, snide comments and other microaggressions they face to complete ostracisation, these lovers risk facing by owning their sexuality. The yet to be released story on a journey of love-discovery and bravery.
Scriptwriter and director, Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim sought to change the narrative of the LGBTQ+ community through the eyes of a queer Nigerian. She said in an interview that she wanted to represent the community adequately which is something Nollywood lacks in its structure.
For the producer of the movie, protecting and promoting the rights of the queer community has been a lifelong dream, one she carries out so diligently. The film for her was birthed from the need to portray the community especially the lesbians as real people, not people to be feared, ridiculed or delivered of an evil demon.
The burning desire to tell these stories can be seen in the way Pamela Adie and Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim, Producer and Director respectively have fought tooth and nail to have this movie reach a Nigerian crowd. From the onset of the production, the crew fought the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to have the movie on Nigerian screens. As expected, that is a tough battle to take on judging from the level of intolerance the Nigerian laws have towards homosexuality.
Adebayo Thomas, the NFVCB boss said that the makers of the movie risk facing 14 years in prison per the laws of the land.
In Nigeria, homosexuality is heavily frowned at morally and legally so we can see why it would be an issue for the movie to fly in the country. Let’s keep laws aside, the society we live in is highly conservative and for years have seen the idea of any sexuality aside heterosexuality as repulsive. This was a major fear that could have hindered this movie but relentlessly they continued to produce their piece of art.
The film’s official trailer dropped in July showing snippets that show highlights of the rudiments of being queer in a country like ours. Majorly starring actresses Uzoamaka Aniunoh and Cindy Amadi, the trailer did not make it to local media channels but have been premiered in various country and has been critically acclaimed by seasoned media professionals
Despite being pushed against, ‘Ife’ the movie is set to be released later in the year on an online platform and although the authorities are on the watch looks like the producers of the movie are preparing for a surprise because they have announced that it would be available to be viewed worldwide on an online platform.
This movie is a new concept to Nigerians and Nollywood but the reception so far has been impressive so does this mean that our society is more open to being inclusive or is this anticipation born out of curiosity?