Although the internet is becoming ever more narrow for many people around the world, as free speech is stifled and censored, some Nigerian filmmakers are confident they will find a way to circumvent the country's laws and censorship and release online a movie, “Ife,” a story about a lesbian relationship.
But if earlier reports are to be believed, those behind “Ife” will not release it on YouTube or any other established platform, and have instead chosen to build their own on-demand streaming site, while remaining open to future cooperation with the likes of Netflix.
The Nigerian law that would be violated by distributing the film through regular channels is the 2014 Same-Sex Prohibition Act, that bans same-sex relationships and carries jail time of up to 14 years for those found in breach of these rules – although it has not yet been used to send anybody to prison.
Meanwhile, the movie's trailer dropped in mid-July. Producer Pamela Adie says that Nigeria's National Film and Video Censors Board has an influential role in preventing LGBTQ stories from being told by the domestic movie industry, nicknamed Nollywood, although they represent the reality in that country.
However, the reality is also that some polls show more than two-quarters of citizens support the law, deemed controversial in the West – while the northern parts of Nigeria are ruled by the Sharia Law that deals with homosexuality in brutal ways.
Judging by Adie – an outspoken LGBTQ activists and recipient of an Obama Foundation award – the goal of the film is to normalize same-sex relationships as no different than heterosexual ones with all their ups and downs, and provide the LGBTQ community with more visibility and acceptance.
The report, however, does not detail which online streaming option those behind “Ife” have chosen, i.e., if they will have their own platform or rely after all on one of giant centralized US companies.
The Censors Board earlier promised to track down the movie whatever distribution channel it choses, and reiterated that all Nigeria-made films must be submitted to the board for evaluation and rating.