A beautifully monochromatic look at LGBT life in Kenya, the NEST Collective’s Stories Of Our Lives is an important history of fear.
Out In Africaby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Attributed to the NEST Collective, Stories Of Our Lives is a collection of five short films moodily evoking the experiences of gay and lesbian men and women in Kenya. The stories Ask Me Nicely, Run, Athman, Duet and Each Night I Dream are based on real interviews and give a personal insight into the reality of being gay in Kenya. The central emotion is fear and isn’t necessarily unique to Africa, but there are other specifics which shock – such as the blunt questions asked by school principals or friends (“Which one is the man?” “Do you take it up the ass?”) as well as archive footage of demonstrations against “gayism” and its promotion in Kenya. And there are other motifs that run through the collection – the threatening knock at the door, escape, intimacy behind closed doors, while sensual black and white images and fantasy moments (with bubbles and sparkles!) offer other forms of flight. It’s not perfect – and the acting, script and overreliance on image could all be criticised in places, but as a lone voice in a continent plagued by homophobia and repression, Stories Of Our Lives is one that deserves to be heard.
Stories Of Our Lives is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival