For Immediate Release
October 30, 2013 (West Hollywood, Calif.) – Tuesday night the West Hollywood City Council welcomed filmmakers, activists, and community members for a screening of one of this year’s most critically acclaimed films, ‘Call Me Kuchu.’ Named as a potential Oscar contender by both The Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire, the documentary follows Uganda's first openly gay man, David Kato, and retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo as they work against the clock to defeat a new "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," inspired in part by American evangelical missionaries.
One year into filming, following a high-profile legal victory for David Kato and fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) activists, David was brutally murdered at his home in Kampala. ‘Call Me Kuchu’ depicts the last year of David’s life and introduces the activists that have been inspired to continue David’s work.
“‘Call Me Kuchu’ is a rare glimpse into the daily lives of people working for LGBTI rights in Uganda,” said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), which co-sponsored the screening. “The stories of David Kato, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, and Frank Mugisha stand as a testament to courage, dignity, and the human spirit.”
The evening began with a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion featuring the film’s co-directors Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright, as well as visiting Ugandan LGBTI activist Frank Mugisha, winner of the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Frank Mugisha, George Ayala, and Katherine Fairfax Wright at Tuesday Night's Screening
“Our goal with ‘Call Me Kuchu’ was to ensure it took the viewer beyond the chronicle of victimization so often depicted in the international news media,” said Ms. Zouhali-Worrall. “We wanted to tell the nuanced story of David and Kampala’s kuchus as they worked to change their fate.”
Co-sponsored by AIDS Project Los Angeles and the City of West Hollywood, the event was held to benefit the David Kato Vision & Voice Award (DKVVA). Named for the celebrated Ugandan activist featured in the film, the DKVVA is awarded annually to an individual who demonstrates outstanding courage and leadership in advocacy for the rights of LGBTI people, particularly in hostile environments. Founded in commemoration of David Kato’s life and work, the DKVVA provides recipients with a $10,000 grant to further their efforts to advance LGBTI rights in their own communities.
“Uganda is just one of 76 countries around the world that criminalize homosexuality, imposing fines, prison sentences, and even death for those found guilty,” said Dr. Ayala. “These laws create an environment that gives rise to brutal violence, and they undermine access to basic HIV services. Grassroots activists are at the frontlines of the fight against these laws, all while working to provide basic HIV services to their communities and offering protection from those who would threaten them, including the police.”
“LGBTI activists in Uganda and around the world do their work under sustained threat of arrest, abuse, and violence,” said Mr. Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and Chair of the DKVVA. “For communities like ours, which face systematic attempts to deny and negate our very existence, the recognition of LGBTI human rights defenders is a powerful and radical act. By supporting grassroots activists with vital funding and a global media platform, the DKVVA pushes our work forward and lifts our voices above the silence.”
‘Call Me Kuchu’ is now available on DVD, iTunes, and On Demand. More information about the film can be found at http://callmekuchu.com. More information about the David Kato Vision & Voice Award can be found on the DKVVA website at http://www.visionandvoiceaward.com/.
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the United States, provides bilingual direct services, prevention education and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. With more than 30 years of service, APLA is a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national and global reach. For more information, visit apla.org.