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Batho Ba Lorato – the only ‘queer’ film festival in Botswana, will be showcasing its third annual installment of films and documentaries in an effort to bring awareness to the public about issues the LGBTI(Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered, Intersex) community faces. During the screening, a variety of films will highlight their experiences in our society and in different parts of the world. The festival is spearheaded by LEGAGIBO, which recently won a landmark legal case against the government to give them recognition and the right to register their organisation. ‘Re Batswana’ which translates to ‘We are Batswana’ is the theme for this year’s festival.
“We aim to create awareness to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation about the issues LGBTI face,” said one of the organisers, Bradley Fortuin. He added that the festival is not founded on the promotion of homosexuality, but it seeks to promote love, respect, tolerance and compassion and appreciation between all human beings.
Commenting on the theme, he said before anything else, they are Batswana who deserve access to the right to associate like any other Motswana, and the freedom to express themselves is supported by virtue of being citizens of this country. “The overall theme centres around the law of Botswana and homosexuality, together with how our society views our sexual orientations,” he stated.
In a society that is reluctant to recognise homosexuality and strongly opposes its practice, this film festival is certainly a force against this tide. Botswana is largely conservative, heterosexual, and Christian; most people cling to the moral values this society has set as the foundation of acceptable behaviour, of which homosexuality is seen as contrary to these values. It is vilified as immoral and viewed with contempt.
“In order to give people different perspectives and different stories about the queer experience, Batho Ba Lorato Film Festival aims to educate people and make them more knowledgeable as there’s little documentation about people who identify as LGBTI in Botswana,” said Bradley, who is also an activist of the movement.
In a past press release, LEGABIBO stated that, “The heterosexual community rarely gets an opportunity to hear the stories of people affected by homophobia and transphobia; of parents who have a gay child in their family; of people who are transgender or intersex; or of people who are gay or lesbian and Christian. The films were specially selected to help straight people learn more about LGBTI issues.”
The films explore issues such as love in same sex relationships, HIV/AIDS and STI infections, violence against homosexuals, just to name a few. During the festival, some local talent will be highlighted. One of the films that will be premiered is by Katlego Kesupile, a local transgender activist who directed and scripted the short film. The film which is called ‘Mponeng’, a first of its kind, is a story of visibility and self identification. “My mission is to tell as many stories of queer life in Botswana as possible,” stated Katlego. Amongst the documentaries is one produced by Iranti, which profiles the LEGABIBO case that took place at the High Court.
This festival is scheduled to run from Tuesday February 24 to Saturday February 28 2015 at the University of Botswana Library Auditorium. The event starts from 1730hrs to 2000hrs and is scheduled to start at 1530hrs on Saturday. There is no admission fee and the organisers encourage everyone to attend the event. Organisers of the event would also like to thank the University of Botswana for their cooperation in providing them with a venue to hold this festival. This film festival is sponsored by The Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives.