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) was founded in 1983 and is one of the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organizations in the United States. APLA provides bilingual support to more than 6,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County annually and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. Additionally, APLA conducts behavioral research designed to inform the development of evidence-based interventions and assists health departments in evaluating their HIV/AIDS services to ensure the delivery of effective and quality programs. APLA also provides administrative and fiscal support to the Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSMGF), which promotes and advocates for the health and human rights of MSM internationally. APLA is proud to be a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national, and global reach. For more information, please visit apla.org.
APLA Health & Wellness (APLAHW) provides primary medical and oral health care, behavioral health services, HIV testing, PrEP counseling and management of eligible clients, STD screening/treatment, and health education and HIV-prevention services, with a specific focus on low-income LGBT people of color living in Los Angeles County. APLAHW is a federally qualified health center that includes: the Gleicher/Chen Health Center in South Los Angeles; the Wilshire Dental Clinic downtown; the S. Mark Taper Foundation Dental Clinic in South Los Angeles; Behavioral Health Services at the David Geffen Center in Mid-City; and a mobile dental facility. APLA Health & Wellness serves more than 8,000 people each year. For more information, please visit aplahw.org.