Pamela Adie and Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim, two filmmakers, could be jailed if they go ahead with their planned release of ‘Ife’, Nigeria’s first lesbian movie.
The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) had vehemently refused to approve the movie for distribution, explaining that its content violates the country’s extant law on homosexuality.
Homosexuality is prohibited by law in Nigeria and offenders could bag 14-year sentence if convicted.
But amid the opposition, Adie had last month said the controversial project will be released this year via an online demand.
It is understood that the movie will be screened privately in Lagos by the end of the month, while its international premiere is scheduled for October in Canada.
But in a chat with BBC, Adebayo Thomas, NFVCB director, said the board will prosecute the film’s producers if they eventually release the movie without the board’s approval.
“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,” he said
Thomas argued that the board has the right to censor the movie, regardless of the platform it is released, “as long as it’s Nigerian content and it’s telling a Nigerian story.”
“If it did not pass through NFVCB and it is released, the filmmakers will be prosecuted according to the law,” he added.
The NFVCB boss also vowed to pull down the film if eventually released, noting that the board had already partnered with several online platforms including Google and YouTube.
“As long as it’s Nigerian content, we will pull it down because we have collaborations with Google, YouTube and other key players,” he said.
The producers, however, seemed determined to release the project despite objection from the NFVCB.
Adie insisted that the film would help tell stories of LGBT women in Nigeria.
“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,” she said.
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