Stories of Our Lives (2014): Documenting Anti-Gay Movement in Africa (LGBTQ, Gay)

Stories of Our Lives deals with the millions of individuals who have been affected by the rising tide of anti-gay sentiment on the African continent.

Consisting of five vignettes about Kenya’s LGBT community, the film world premieres today.

For director Jim Chuchu, the film tries to go beyond the headlines and explore a world that is often marginalized or ignored within Kenya.

“We’re really interested in telling stories that are different from the mainstream Kenyan culture, which denies a lot of things,” he says.

Chuchu is a co-founder of the Nest, a Nairobi art space where roughly a dozen members from different walks of life collaborate on multi-disciplinary projects. Last year the group decided to travel across Kenya, conducting hundreds of anonymous interviews with gay men and women as part of a multi-media project documenting LGBT lives.

The stories they collected inspired them to rethink their initial project. With time, they started to see the potential to bring some of those stories to the screen.

The film was a collaborative effort. Though many of the cast and crew have worked on musicvideos and multimedia projects, none have formal film production training. Pic was lensed on a $15,000 budget, using a Canon DSLR. Though passions ran high through the eight-month process — when each of the scripts was written, developed and shot — expectations were low when production wrapped.

“TIFF was a complete surprise to me and the whole team,” Chuchu says.  The helmer is making his second trip to Toronto after his first short, “Homecoming,” preemed last year as part of “African Metropolis,” a collection of six shorts filmed in six African cities.

South Africa’s Big World Cinema, which produced “Metropolis,” is a co-producer on “Stories.”