‘Uno & Hatago’ heads to big screen

Photo: Contributed

A lesbian love story is headed to the big screen as ‘Uno & Hatago’ (2024) premieres at Ster-Kinekor at Maerua Mall today.

Directed by Hillary Shiimi and written by Jason Kooper based on a story by the Women’s Leadership Centre (WLC), the film stars Diana Master (Uno) and Uakamburuavi Jeomba (Hatago) as a young lesbian couple working to achieve their dreams, despite prejudice, socio-cultural challenges and violence.

‘Uno & Hatago’ is produced by the WLC, and the organisation’s director, Liz Frank, acts as the film’s producer.

“Six powerful women conceptualised the story: Toshi Haufiku, Florence /Khaxas, Revonia April, Liz Frank, Irene Garoës and Hillary Shiimi,” says Shiimi, who will be making her directorial debut.

“The film is evidence of the courage, creativity and pride of young lesbian women who came together to share their experience, realities, pain and joy to create this amazing film,” she says.

As the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and other (LGBTQI+) community in Namibia continues to fight for the recognition of their human rights and hate speech and violence increase in the wake of affirming court judgements, ‘Uno & Hatago’ premieres during a significant time.

“I believe ‘Uno & Hatago’ is relevant today, especially with the homophobic bills that were submitted to the parliament and with the sodomy law as well as the Marriage Act court cases,” says Kooper.

“Aside from these cases, this is the first time (local) lesbian women will get to see themselves on screen, which is a win because representation matters.”

According to Shiimi, the recognition and acceptance of queer Namibians’ rights is still evolving.

“’Uno & Hatago’ is particularly necessary because it highlights the specific experiences and challenges faced by lesbian women, a perspective often underrepresented in mainstream media,” says Shiimi.

“By telling this story, we aim to amplify lesbian voices and promote economic justice for queer folks in Namibia’s creative industry.

“Some 80% of our crew were part of the LGBTQI+ community, which highlights our commitment to inclusivity and representation.”

While stories from Namibia’s queer community have recently been heavily portrayed in the local media, these newspaper stories regularly lack empathy and often fail to portray queer people as multifaceted and striving members of society.

“I hope this film will help people be more empathetic towards the LGBTQI+ community. I hope it helps parents understand their child from the community,” says Kooper.

“Film is a powerful tool for change and for creating awareness. I hope this film starts the conversation.”

Asked what cinemagoers can look forward to from the film, Shiimi hails the depth and nuance of Master and Jeomba’s performances, while Kooper leaves us with a teaser.

“Expect drama, plot twists and most importantly a love story,” Kooper says.

The red carpet reception at Maerua Mall begins at 18h00 and the film screens at 19h00, followed by a question-and-answer session with the film-makers.

Tickets are available from Webtickets and Pick n Pay.

– martha@namibian.com.na; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamukaiwa.com

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