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First Ever Nigerian Lesbian Movie, “Ife” Set For Release Despite Warnings From Censors Board

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A lesbian movie “Ife” – the very first in Nigeria – is set to be released in coming days despite several warnings from the Nigerian movie censors board.

“Ife” (translated to love) was produced by Pamela Adie and directed by Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim is set for release despite stern warning from Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) that the film violates the country’s strict laws on homosexuality.

BBC however reports that the filmmakers are determined to get the film across to the Nigerian audience. To get around, the report says the filmmakers are planning a surprise online release to catch the regulators off-guard.

If a lesbian woman does appear in a standard Nollywood movie they are often portrayed as being possessed, influenced by bad friends or forced into homosexuality and always needing “saving”, she told the BBC.

You rarely see stories about LGBT people, especially about queer women that speak to the realities of our lives. “Ife was made to bridge the gap and to get the conversation going in Nigeria.”

“Ife” is a story about two women, played by Uzoamaka Aniunoh and Cindy Amadi falling in love as they spend three days together. They “then have their love tested by the realities of being in a same-sex relationship in a country like Nigeria”, according to the publicity for the film.

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“Before now, we have been told one-sided stories. What we are doing with this film is normalising the queer experience, we are normalising the LGBT romance. It will begin to erase that shame that LBQ [lesbian, bisexual and queer] women face,” Adie told the BBC.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community in Africa is becoming increasingly vocal and visible, thanks to the internet providing a space for films, talk shows and websites.

But that has not stopped filmmakers from getting into trouble with authorities. The head of the NFVCB said there was no space for Ife or other homosexual movies in Nigeria, citing the law.

“There’s a standing law that prohibits homosexuality, either in practice or in a movie or even in a theatre or on stage. If it’s content from Nigeria, it has to be censored,” Mr Thomas told the BBC.

He said that whatever the platform was, “as long as it’s Nigerian content and it’s telling a Nigerian story, then we have a right to it”.

But there is no plan for large-scale screenings of Ife in Nigerian cinemas or selling the DVD, as the producers want to make it available online as pay-on-demand.

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