Inside Uganda’s only queer film festival

2017-05-21 08:44

Johannesburg - We spoke to Kamoga Hassan this week – courageous film maker, activist and founder of the Queer Kampala International Film Festival (QKIFF), the first and only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) film festival in Uganda and the only gay film festival in a country where homosexuality is illegal.

Hassan just announced that the second edition of his fledgling festival will take place from 8 to 10 December, a true feat in the face of the significant odds.

Why did you start QKIFF?

It came about in 2014, after the now-famous Ugandan newspaper stories that outed people they perceived to be gay or those who were sympathisers of the LGBTQI community. It was also at this time that Uganda’s dictator, President Yoweri Museveni, signed the anti-homosexuality bill, which was known internationally as the Kill the Gay Bill. As a result of this, many of our friends lost their jobs. We also saw a large number of gay and lesbian people leaving the country.

In some cases, people committed suicide. Looking at all this happening, my friends and I could not just sit and look at things the way they were happening. We thought about creative ways we could educate people about sexuality, because there was so much hatred caused by ignorance. In 2015, we did a film called Outed: The Painful Reality, about what happens after a gay person is outed in the media in Uganda. We also toured a number of queer-themed film festivals in the US, Canada, Germany, France, the UK, Spain and the Netherlands.

As a result of Outed, we saw that we could use film to end the victimisation of the LGBTQI community, and this gave birth to the Queer Kampala International Film Festival. The inaugural QKIFF was held in December 2016, with several host venues across the country’s capital of Kampala. To ensure a safe and successful event, we executed complex strategies including prescreening of attendees, announcing venues only hours before each screening and never using the same venue twice.

How did you get the funds to do the first one?

We managed to put the festival on with our limited funds, most of which came from our own pockets. We also launched a crowdfunding campaign and used a grant from a Dutch Organisation called Movies That Matter. We can’t wait to do it again.

See a promo here:

To support the next QKIFF, head to

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