Focus of gay-friendly Nigerian film: Tough facts of LGBT life

Scene from the trailer of "Hell or High Water" (Photo courtesy of YouTube)
Scene from the trailer of “Hell or High Water” (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

“The reality of sexuality amidst spirituality, exorcism, blackmail, and family life”

Poster for "Hell or High Water"
Poster for “Hell or High Water”

The Nigerian human rights group TIERS is co-producing a short dramatic film about LGBT life, made in partnership with an award-winning local film company, Asurf Films Limited.

Their movie, titled “Hell or High Water,” explores “the reality of sexuality amidst spirituality, exorcism, blackmail, and family life,” said TIERS (The Initiative for Equal Rights), which works for the human rights of sexual minorities in Nigeria.

Mike Daemon, host of the Nigerian LGBTIQ podcast No Strings, welcomed the announcement. “Finally, a Nigerian film that challenges the stereotypical narratives about sexuality and spirituality,” he commented.

The film should be available on Netflix by July, TIERS said.

Asurf Oluseyi Amuwa (Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Asurf Oluseyi Amuwa (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

“Hell or High Water” is directed by Asurf Oluseyi Amuwa, who earlier this month won the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award for the best short film or online video. His winning entry was “A Day With Death,” about a 65-year-old woman who convinces the Grim Reaper (“a tall young lady”) to accompany her for a day as she ties up loose ends.

When he won the award, TIERS congratulated him and called him “the big brain behind our new project.”

Africa Connected described Asurf as “a self-taught film producer who started out by spending late nights in Internet cafes, so that he could watch YouTube videos to teach himself how to shoot and edit films. Now, he runs a successful film and video production company in Lagos where he employs 10 people. His company is courted by Nigerian celebrities to film their music/entertainment videos locally and internationally. He also runs workshops in Lagos to help teach the next generation of aspiring young film professionals all that he has learned.”

This is the TIERS announcement of the film:

TIERS logo
TIERS logo

The Initiative for Equal Rights in partnership with Asurf Films Limited has produced this short film themed around the traumatic experiences arising from socially constructed expectations imposed on persons who self identify as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual. The movie narrates the realities faced by LGBT persons in the Nigerian society where heteronormative expectations are the norm, and the only accepted sexual orientation is heterosexuality.

The Initiative for Equal Rights believes that Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual person are human. There is a need to humanize the discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity through everyday realities. This is important for educational and information purposes. It goes beyond the singular narrative often circulated on the subject.

The short film, Hell or High Water, tells the story of a young pastor loved and adored by the people around him. Things change for him when he has to confront a hidden truth about himself—a truth that could make or break him psychologically. But, whatever decision he makes, he is still going to crash and burn, for life as he once knew it would never be the same again. The story explores the reality of sexuality amidst spirituality, exorcism, blackmail, and family life. Hell or High Water challenges stereotypical narratives about sexuality and spirituality.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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