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Nigerian director on his queer film and the lynching of a gay friend

Author: Trudy Ring

Babatunde Apalowo, director of the gay-themed Nigerian film All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White, was shocked to learn that one of his college roommates was lynched for being gay.

“Our residence was small rooms with bunk beds,” Apalowo recently told Variety. “It’s difficult to move around in that small physical space and not get to know people well. Yet I never knew he was gay.”

“He was lynched,” Apalowo continued. “That really got to me because I thought perhaps I was part of the problem. He didn’t trust me enough to tell me what he was going through. It made me wonder and think, even though we were living so close together in this same physical space, our reality was completely different. I couldn’t imagine him going through all those things. And I had absolutely no idea.”

All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White, Apalowo’s first feature film, is a rare queer film to come out of Nigeria, where marrying someone of the same sex carries a 14-year prison term. It’s a love story between two men, Bambino and Bawa, who meet while Bawa is taking pictures around the city of Lagos.

Apalowo had trouble finding actors who were willing to take gay roles, but eventually Tope Tedela was cast as Bambino and Riyo David as Bawa. The film has been a hit at festivals around the world, winning the Teddy Award, given to the best LGBTQ-themed feature, at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

It will not, however, screen in Apalowo’s home country. The government of Nigeria didn’t put up any barriers to the making of the film, but the director knew it wouldn’t be approved by the National Film and Video Censors Board for showing in Nigerian theaters. He’s encouraged about the possibility of getting it on streaming services, though.

Apalowo, 37, who now lives in the U.K., urged African filmmakers to address subjects they’re passionate about — including those that might be considered off-limits. “I was so touched about what happened to my friend and it made me become aware. I became aware of what was going on,” he told Variety.

“If there’s a topic you want to approach you just have to be passionate enough about it to do the work to make it extremely authentic,” he added. “Every African filmmaker should really dig when approaching any topic that’s taboo — find the order in the story.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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