Uganda LGBT Refugee Drama Films Screened at Online Film Festival

Two films, produced as part of a Leeds-led research project, have been selected for screening at the Changing the Story Online International Film Festival, taking place 1-5 June, 2020.

The drama films, “Daniel in the Homophobic Lions’ Den”, and “Jesus and the Guys Charged with Indecency”, use stories from the Bible to tell the life experiences of LGBT+ Ugandan refugees living in Nairobi.

The films were produced by The Nature Network, a community-based self-empowerment organisation of LGBT+ refugees based in Nairobi, as part of a research project led by Professors Johanna Stiebert and Adriaan van Klinken.

This project focuses on the life stories of Ugandan LGBT+ refugees, and it creatively appropriates bible stories to narrate and signify their struggles and hopes. As Raymond Brian, founder and leader of The Nature Network, puts it in this introduction video: “The Bible is often used against us. But in these films we reclaim it as a book that affirms and empowers us.”

Both films will be screened on the Festival website on Wednesday 3rd June, among other films in the category “Youth, Resistance and Freedom”. “Daniel in the Homophobic Lions’ Den” will be screened at 12 noon (BST) and “Jesus and the Guys Charged with Indecency” at 3pm (BST).

To see what these drama films are about, why they were made and why you should watch them, please watch these introduction videos:

  • Sulah Mawejji (The Nature Network) introduces “Jesus and the Guys Charged with Indecency”. As he says, “In this film, we use the story about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery to play out our experiences of stigma, discrimination and violence because of our sexual and gender identities.”
  • Raymond Brian (The Nature Network) introduces “Daniel in the Homophobic Lions’ Den”. As he says, “In this film, we use the story about Daniel in the lions’ den to play out the drama of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda and to celebrate our liberation.”

Scene of Daniel in the Homophobic Lions’ Den

Raymond Brian and Adriaan van Klinken will participate in an online panel discussion with other film makers, 12:00-13:45 (BST) on Friday 5 June, 2020. Register here to join the Online Q&A.

The project, titled “Tales of Sexuality and Faith: The Ugandan LGBT Refugee Life Story Project”, was funded by the British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust.

Johanna Stiebert is Professor of Hebrew Bible, and Adriaan van Klinken is Professor of Religion and African Studies, in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science at the University of Leeds. They are both part of the Leeds University Centre for African Studies, and their collaborative research project, using community-based participatory methodology, reflects the Centre’s commitment to undertake innovative and transformative work with local communities in African contexts, around a range of current social and political concerns.

In addition to the films, another output of the project is a co-authored book, Sacred Queer Stories: Inter-Reading Ugandan Gay/Trans Refugee Lives and the Bible, which is currently in process.