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I Am Samuel

Country: Kenya | Canada | UK | USA, Language: Swahili | English , 70 mins

  • Director: Peter Murimi
  • Writer: Peter Murimi; Ricardo Acosta
  • Producer: Toni Kamau; Peter Murimi

CGiii Comment

The most weirdly framed documentary seen in recent times! 

The film opens with graphic, gut-wrenching and horrific footage...of a public, ultra-violent, homophobic attack. Seemingly, these kind of attacks are a common occurrence in Nigeria. Peter Murimi certainly sets the tone of his film, from the off...this is not going to be pleasant. However, it ends with two, gay, grown men [joyfully] playing Hide & Seek...

What lies in between the harrowing start and the happy ending is...more bizarre than uninteresting. This is NOT about that poor man so brutally attacked and humiliated. This is not about that poor man's recovery. This is about Samuel...who was not brutally attacked...but, as he says himself, it could have been him! But...it wasn't.

Samuel's story is nothing surprising, it's the same-old same-old...tradition and religion doing their very best to screw up people's lives. Only, they actually don't screw up his life...after a bumpy moment, when his parents 'see the light' and cast him out...a couple of weeks later, after a phone-call, they are reunited and all is hunk dory. He even takes his partner to meet them and they end up playing hide and seek. The end.

Mr Murimi missed the boat with this one. Why he chose Samuel's story to tell is a question only he can answer. There was a roomful of young gay men, living in Lagos, living in fear...their stories sounded far more interesting than the one told. It really was a case of: Choose your [main] subject more wisely!


Trailer...

The(ir) Blurb...

Samuel was born and raised on a farm in rural Kenya. Moving to its capital, Nairobi, he meets and falls in love with Alex. Samuel's father, a preacher at his local village church a few miles from the capital, expects his son to marry and looks forward to the day when he brings home a daughter-in-law. While Alex and Samuel's love for each other thrives, they remain constantly aware of the shadows of violence creeping around them. After all, under the Kenyan constitution's penal code, introduced by the British some 100 years ago, homosexual acts carry a 14-year prison sentence. Director Pete Murimi's nuanced drama is a moving portrait of two Kenyan men balancing the pressures of family loyalty, love and a lifelong quest of acceptance.

Keith Shiri