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Films 2015 - Cameroon - Born This Way

Born This Way

Director: Shaun Kadlec, Deb Tullmann, 2013

Language: French / English
82 minutes – USA / Cameroon

From IMDB: Born This Way is a portrait of the underground gay and lesbian community in Cameroon. It follows two young Cameroonians, as they move between a secret, supportive LGBT community and an outside culture that, though intensely homophobic, is in transition toward greater acceptance.

From the film’s website:

: There are more arrests for homosexuality in Cameroon than any other country in the world. With intimate access to the lives of four young gay Cameroonians, Born This Way steps outside the genre of activist filmmaking and offers a vivid and poetic portrait of day-to-day life in modern Africa. Lyrical imagery, devastating homophobia, the influence of western culture, and a hidden-camera courtroom drama mysteriously coalesce into a story of what is possible in the global fight for equality.

We met Steave Nemande, the founder of Alternatives Cameroun (the first LGBT center in Cameroon) at a Human Rights Watch event in Los Angeles. He told us about a very brave group of LGBT people who congregate at Alternatives. He described how they work and play there: doing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, providing psychological counseling, and supporting people who are rejected by their families—but also throwing amateur runway fashion shows, dance parties, and soccer matches. And during all of this, exploring together what it means to be gay, lesbian, African, human—in a place where none of these things are simple. He said that he believed many people in that community were ready, for the first time, to tell their stories.

We traveled alone to Cameroon on tourist visas. We spok e
almost no French, the official language, and though we have both traveled widely, neither of us had ever been to Central Africa. We had no idea what kind of film we would end up with. We only knew that we would determine the structure and content by listening to the people who agreed to share their stories and their lives.