The National Film and Video Censors Board says “it knows what to do” if the producers of a soon-to-be-released LGBTQ movie, ‘Ife,’ do not present it for censorship.
Adedayo Thomas, the executive director of the agency, told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday that any film to be shown in Nigeria must be submitted to the board for the “necessary ratings.”
“The law of the land prohibits some certain things,” he said.
“As long as it is Nigerian, it will be tracked down. Even those who are involved in it too. Before you get yourself involved in certain things, there must be contract. What is the contract? An ignorance of law is not an excuse.
“If you say you’re shooting a movie on the conception of lesbianism, fine, that is the work. It has not gotten to our table, when it gets to our table, we will know that this is what we are going to do.”
‘Ife’ is a story which revolves around two lesbian partners, Ife and Adaora, who fell in love and struggled through the challenges of being in a same-sex relationship in Nigeria.
The movie is directed by Uyai Ikpe-Etim and is aimed at changing the narrative and the representation of LGBTQ (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) in Nollywood.
The producer, Pamela Adie, told PREMIUM TIMES that the portrayal of same-sex relations in Nollywood is not the reality of everybody and their stories, especially lesbians, need to be told.
“We only see stories about LGBT people that condemn us, to say that we are people to be beaten, sometimes even killed. That is the kind of narrative that we get from Nollywood but that is not the reality. We are human beings too, just like everybody else.
“The idea was just to show that we are normal people who fall in love, who have their hearts broken, who break hearts, who have troubles, who triumph. We also aim to increase the visibility of the community, to tell the lesbian story too and to drive social acceptance,” she said.
Nigeria has a Same-Sex Prohibition Act, signed into law in 2014, which prohibits marriage or public show of same-sex “amorous” relationship. Defaulters are liable to a jail term ranging between 10 – 14 years.
Cases of homophobia are common across Nigeria and law enforcement agents frequently clamp down on suspects.
Telling every story
Oluseyi Asurf, the Director of Photography for ‘Ife,’ maintained that every story is worth being heard.
In 2016, Mr Asurf directed the gay-themed movie, Hell or High Water, which starred Nollywood stars like Enyinna Nwigwe and Daniel K. Daniel.
“When I was trying to make ‘Hell or High Water’, there were some blocks like casting, it was difficult to get people who were difficult to play the roles but I eventually got someone,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“When we finished, it felt like things were going to happen but nothing did. Nigerians are also humans. The day you remove the homophobic law that we have in Nigeria, you will realise how much of LGBT people we have in this country,” he said.
Although the trailer of ‘Ife’ will be out on July 15, according to the producer, the release date is undecided.
Ms Adie said the movie is not going to be released on YouTube or any indigenous streaming platform.
“It’s not going to be on YouTube, we are building our own platform where people can pay to watch movies like an on-demand streaming platform. Maybe if Netflix decides to show it after a year of release, why not? For now, we don’t plan to release it on any other site.
“I intend to make more films that centre on stories about LGBTQ people, particularly Nigerian lesbian, bisexual, and queer women,” she said.