The Ugandan government has blocked the Euro-Uganda Film Festival in the capital Kampala from screening a Dutch film called ‘De Eetclub’ (The Dinner Club). The Dutch embassy in Kampala has protested the decision.
De Eetclub is about a social club and a suspicious pair of suicides that take place in an upscale neighborhood in the Netherlands. Some of the characters in the movie engage in homosexual acts or relationships.
“The film depicts and glorifies homosexuality which is a criminal offence in Uganda,” reads a ruling by the Uganda Media Council.
Ugandan censors objected specifically to the portrayal of a lesbian relationship between two principal characters, as well as a scene showing two gay men drinking together, saying that the dialogues among the characters were “against Ugandan values.”
They also objected to nudity, “steamy sex scenes,” and “lurid language” in the film. The film classification body denigrated the social club at the heart of the 2010 Dutch film as “a sort of brothel.”
According to a statement on Facebook by the Embassy of the Netherlands, the film had been nominated by the embassy before the Uganda Media Council ruled that it should not be exhibited at the festival or anywhere in Uganda.
The Dutch embassy called the decision “unfortunate,” adding, “The Embassy deplores the decision of the Uganda Media Council and it will withdraw from participation in the European Film Festival in Uganda.”
Homosexuality and homosexual marriages are legal in the Netherlands but not in Uganda.
The embassy did not explain why it had nominated the film to be screened at the Kampala film festival.
Reactions from Ugandans on social media were mixed. One Facebook user called Vincent regretted the ban saying, “No more freedom of expression, no storytelling. The Uganda Media Council [should] have some respect for Arts.” Other Ugandans supported the decision, one saying, “Take your wickedness to the Netherlands – Uganda has no room for immorality and homosexuality.”
Ann Styles, a third Facebook user, laughed at the decision implying that Ugandan authorities have a double-standard because they allow indecency in newspapers and bars: “porn papers along the very streets of Kampala [but] I have never heard that they are burnt… and everyday you see naked women on Kampala streets selling themselves as I early as 6 in the evening but nothing has been done… Poor Ugandans.”
The festival organizers confirmed the cancellation of the movie, which was scheduled to show Tuesday, but pointed out that other films will continue to be shown during the rest of the week. The film festival schedule is available here.
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