‘I AM SAMUEL’

Banned Kenyan gay film set to be streamed across Africa

The streaming site is geo-blocked in Kenya in compliance with KFCB’s ban

In Summary

• The team behind 'I Am Samuel' say it can be streamed for free on AfriDocs platform

• Kenya film regulator banned it, accusing producer of trying to promote gay marriage

The poster of the Kenyan documentary 'I Am Samuel' that is set to be launched for streaming across Africa tomorrow. The gay film was banned by KFCB on September 23
The poster of the Kenyan documentary 'I Am Samuel' that is set to be launched for streaming across Africa tomorrow. The gay film was banned by KFCB on September 23
Image: COURTESY

Banned Kenyan documentary I Am Samuel, which depicts the life of a homosexual man in Nairobi, will be streamed across Africa from tomorrow.

The film will, however, still not be aired in Kenya as the site that will stream the documentary is geo-blocked in Kenya in compliance with KFCB’s ban.

The Kenya Films and Classifications Board banned the film from being aired in Kenya last month, citing violation of Article 165 of the Penal Code that outlaws homosexuality, as well as the provisions of the Films and Stage, Plays Act Cap 222 of the laws of Kenya.

“We noted a clear and deliberate attempt by the producer to promote same-sex marriage as an acceptable way of life,” the board said in a press statement.

The film, it added, tries to influence the viewer into believing that the older generation that was once against LGBTQ+ is slowly buying into the practice and accepting same-sex marriage as a normal way of life.

According to the makers of the film, I Am Samuel has already been streamed at 25 film festivals around the world, including the Durban International Film Festival 2021 in South Africa and Canada’s Hot Docs Documentary Festival 2020, where it first premiered.

Award-winning producer of the film Peter Murimi expressed his disappointment with the ban, saying he had hoped the film would allow for constructive dialogue about LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya.

"The film demonstrates how much we have in common. We all fall in love, we all contend with family expectations, the main difference is that Samuel, our main character, had to reckon with homophobia and violence,” he said.

Many people came out to protest the ban of the film in Kenya, with the Twitter hashtags #IAMSAMUEL and #KFCBbansgayfilm trending for several days on the platform.

International rights group Human Rights Watch also came out to criticise the move by the regulatory board, saying censorship will not silence the LGBT community in Kenya.

“KFCB may want to silence them with flimsy claims that reduce Samuel and his partner Alex’s rich relationship to a ‘same-sex agenda’, but it will not succeed; censorship rarely does,” read an article on their website.

The rights group said Samuel’s story will be seen by Kenyans who will make up their own minds.

“In trying to force on the blinders to deny LGBT people’s existence and rights, KFCB is on the wrong side of history,” it concluded.

The film will be available to stream across Africa and in the United States and the United Kingdom on Thursday.

“The film is to be distributed across Africa by AfriDocs, a South African platform, and will continue to be available for African audiences to watch for free on the platform’s website,” read the statement released by the team behind the film.

Viewers in the United States and the United Kingdom can watch I Am Samuel on iTunes.