Title: Call Me Kuchu


Director: Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall

Screenwriter: Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall

Cast: David Kato, Naome Ruzindana, Stosh Mugisha

Screened at: Review, NYC, 5/9/13

Opens: June 14, 2013 in NY and June 21, 2013 in L.A.

Who needs Idi Amin when fascism is alive and well in Uganda? OK, not fascism on a government level, yet. But we here in the West, where fifteen countries and several American states have already approved gay marriage, may not realize that in other parts, particularly in Third World nations, not only is gay marriage prohibited. Homosexuality itself is illegal! In Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s incisive documentary, which has already played in scores of film festivals and is expected to open in NY and LA in June, the parliament in Uganda is considering a bill that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by long prison terms. And get this: Under the bill, if straight persons are aware that people in their circles are gay but do not report these individuals to the authorities, they are subject to three years in jail. And presumably there are no prisons with tennis courts in Uganda.

Fortunately the bill has been tabled by parliament, but, as implied in “Call Me Kuchu” (where the term “kuchu” means “queer”) the only reason this revival of the Spanish Inquisition did not pass is that Western aid might be cut off if it became law. This does not stop a newspaper, Rolling Stone (as right-wing as the American periodical of that name is left-oriented), from publishing one hundred pictures of alleged gays including their addresses. Partly as a result of this rag, one peace-loving gay activist named David Kato is bludgeoned to death with a hammer, hit three times, while at least one Ugandan on camera slouches in his chair to say that “sometimes violence is justified.” Is it justified to rape a lesbian woman to “cure” her? That goes on as well.

You’d think that in a poor East African country, the people would be caught up in trying to survive economically and not waste time meddling with what others who do consensually in private. But in an attempt to be even-handed (or rather to exposure the violent nature of the anti-gay movement by appearing to be even-handed), the directors focus on rabble-rousing speeches that accuse gays of everything from being in bed (so to speak) with Al Queda and responsible for one horrific event of terror, to recruiting young people in the schools. These right-wing zealots also cite the usual laundry list—that God does not like homosexuals, that He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of gays there, and that homosexuality is a learned response and not something you’re born with.

If you don’t like documentaries that feature interviewers chatting with talking heads, rest assured that “Call Me Kuchu” avoid that format but rather has speakers either talking directly to the hand-held and busy cameras or are photographed while in the act of giving speeches for and against the aforementioned bill. The speakers for the most part use English with subtitles provided for those of us who might have difficulty with the accents, and a soundtrack of diverse melodies punctuates the action.

Unrated. 90 minutes © 2013 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – A-

Acting- A-

Technical – B

Overall – B+

Call Me Kuchu Movie

By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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