Followed by online conversation with the director and with the producer.
Samuel, a homosexual man from Kenya, must balance his duties to his family with his love for his partner Alex in a country where his love is criminalized. Samuel grew up on a farm in rural Kenya, where traditions are valued above all else. In search of a new life, he moves to Nairobi, where he finds belonging in a community of queer men, where he meets and falls in love with Alex. Their love thrives, even though Kenyan laws criminalize anyone who identifies as LGBTQ and they face threats of violence and rejection together. Samuel’s father, a preacher at the local church, doesn’t understand why his son isn’t married yet, and Samuel must confront the very real risk.
Director Peter Murimi says of his film, “This is a love story of two men, Samuel and Alex, who feel deeply connected. It is also a film about the resilience of love between father and son. Samuel’s relationship with his father is very similar to my relationship with my father. Both of our fathers had expectations of us that we couldn’t meet. In my case, my father wanted me to have my own children and have a business instead of making movies. Samuel’s father Redon really wanted him to marry a woman and live the same life he did – as a farmer, pastor, husband and father.
Redon is a retired painter who has been married to his wife Rebecca for 50 years. He is also a pastor at the local church and a small farmer in rural Kenya. At any time of year, the couple plows their two-acre farm and plant corn and beans to eat at home. They also keep two cows for milk. Redon, who is deeply religious, struggled with the discovery that his son was gay, and the film follows the family as they adjust to this difficult new reality.
Kenya is a country with extreme wealth inequality. Money and privilege can buy some privacy and security if you are gay. But most Kenyans are poor and live in rural areas or informal urban settlements where they cannot afford to hide dangerous secrets like their sexuality. Their voices are unheard, and their issues are rarely discussed in the media or by policy makers. For this film, it was very important to capture the reality of being poor and gay in Kenya – an experience shared by millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world.” (Source: I AM SAMUEL film website)
The film, which is banned in Kenya, launched in Africa on Africadocs on October 14, 2021.
The film premiered at Canada’s Hot Docs Documentary Festival in 2020 and has screened at more than 25 festivals around the world, including the BFI London Film Festival, the New York Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa in 2021.
Peter Murimi is a multi-award winning documentary filmmaker from Kenya specializing in explosive social issues. His film I AM SAMUEL has screened at numerous international festivals from Hot Docs in Canada to the British Film Institute in London. Murimi has conducted numerous investigative research for the BBC’s Africa Eye program, including THE BABY STEALERS (2020), a film about a child trafficking syndicate that led to numerous arrests of perpetrators. The documentarian has worked for broadcasters such as Al Jazeera and Channel 4 News in 30 African countries. Back in 2004, he was named “African Journalist of the Year” by CNN for his sensitive film WALK TO WOMANHOOD about genital mutilation in Kenya’s Kuria community. (Source: Africa Film Festival Cologne)