Gay movie to be screened in Lilongwe

Genre : Society news
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv
Published on : 30/04/2015
Source : April 2015

After being screened across the world, the documentary film, Umunthu: A Pan-African Response to Homosexuality, will be screened at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on Monday, May 4.
Umunthu, a first person documentary about the controversy surrounding homosexuality in Malawi, follows the journey of three young Malawians, each of whom has opposing views on gay rights, a politicised and divisive issue in the country.
"The film triggers open and sober discussion about homosexuality and provides a neutral platform to begin unpacking the controversy surrounding gay rights in Malawi. The film also encourages audiences to begin to shape an African response to this issue," says Mwizalero Nyirenda, who made the film.
The film uses the concept of Umunthu-I am because you are-to unpack the controversy and politics surrounding gay rights in Malawi.
Locally, the 30-minute film has so far been premiered at Domasi College of Education, Kamuzu College of Nursing in Lilongwe, Mzuzu University, College of Medicine and at the Malawi College of Health Sciences in Zomba.
Umunthu has also been screened across the world in film festivals in Boston, Los Angeles and Zanzibar and at educational institutions such as Harvard University.
At the 2014 Zanzibar International Film Festival, Umunthu received the Sembene Ousmane prize, which honours feature films, documentaries and short films on development in Africa.
"The latest tour of Umunthu began last week in Lilongwe. Our next and final screening in Lilongwe will take place at Crossroads Hotel on May 4.
"The event will start at 6pm and will be graced by the US Ambassador Virginia Palmer and presidential adviser on non-governmental organisations NGOs, Mavuto Bamusi, who will both give opening remarks. The event will also be attended by government officials, Parliament, civil society and the media," explained Mwizalero.
The screenings are being organised by Art and Global Health Centre Africa (AGHCA), an NGO based in Zomba.
In December 2009, two men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, were arrested for holding a traditional engagement ceremony.
On May 18 2010, they were sentenced to 14 years in prison, but they were pardoned over a week later, on May 29, by former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika, due to international pressure, even though he had repeatedly condemned homosexuality.
The conviction was based on sections 150 and 153 of the Penal Code, which was drafted in 1930 when Malawi was under British colonial rule.
It was against this background that Nyirenda, Chancellor College's graduate in drama, filmed Umunthu in 2011, with the aim of triggering public discourse on the issue of gay rights.


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