Nigeria’s first lesbian movie goes online to beat censorship

Pamela Adie LGBT

Pamela Adie, the producer of Nigeria’s first lesbian feature film Ife has announced that it will be released online.

“In Nigeria, there has never been a film like Ife,” said Adie, one of the country’s most prominent LGBT+ activists, who has been a World Economic Forum speaker and won recognition from the Obama Foundation as a young African leader.

“No film has had the impact it will have, or already has in Nigeria … The reception to the poster and the trailer has been mad. We expect that it will be madder when the full film is released,” the 36-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

With the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) set not to approve Ife for distribution, Adie said she plans to release it on an online on-demand platform later this year.

“Anyone who wants to watch will be able to do so from anywhere in the world,” she said, declining to give further details.

Homosexuality is banned in Nigeria and anybody convicted could be jailed for 14 years.

A 2014 law criminalising gay relationships is being used to prosecute 47 men for same-sex public displays of affection, after Nigerian police raided in 2018 what they said was a gay club. The men said it was a birthday party.

Directed by Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim, Ife – which means love in the Yoruba language, stars Uzoamaka Aniunoh and Cindy Amadi.

The trailer has been watched thousands of times since it was premiered on YouTube on July 14, with viewers commenting on their excitement over its release.

Born in a Christian home in Obudu, Cross River State and raised by staunch Catholic parents, Adie left Nigeria for the United States at 17.

She earned a bachelor of business administration degree, with a minor in personal and professional communication, returning to Nigeria to work as campaigns manager for All Out, a US-headquartered LGBT+ rights group.

Adie went on to found The Equality Hub in 2017 to promote the rights of lesbian and bisexual women and released a documentary film Under the Rainbow last year about her struggles as a lesbian in Nigeria.

“I was still married (to a man) at the time that I came out of the closet so it was a very difficult time,” Adie said in the film, which was produced by The Equality Hub. “It was the most depressing and the lowest point of my whole life.”

She came out of the closet in 2011, announcing in 2017 that she will marry her lesbian partner on July, 23, 2018.

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has refused to register her NGO Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative (LEEI).