Concept and story by Ndimbira Claudine (Shenge)
We live in a world where indifference is part of our everyday life. We create our bubble and avoid to see the diversity that humanity has blessed us with. Whenever we see something that’s different, we scare off, regardless of whether it’s dangerous or poses any threat to our way of living, we tend to include and integrate those who look, feel, think and see life like us.
Sadly, this way is living many people behind, outcast, ignored, almost as if they were forgotten, souls. This is the case of the small, but a confined world of LGBTQ people in Rwanda.
Though the country doesn’t have any direct harsh laws that prevent it, the society has created its own standard defining the new normal through their own eyes. This documentary will give a new voice to many of these young women and men who are no other but human, like you and me.
“Living like a shadow” is a 90 minutes film that will follow the lives of 3 characters. Even if some have similar issues or experiences – like living a double love life due to what the society expects from them or being judged often, each one of them has a unique story.
The characters will be interviewed or narrate their own stories. As 1 of them will not allow her identity to be shown other means and graphical creativity will be used to tell the story. N.B This visual concept is very rushed as I wrote this project in hurry due to the deadline. I will keep on working on it and even search more about the characters
Our first character : His story we have a look at how he is privileged and not struggling like the others. We will look at his clothing style, makeup choices, Men preferences. We follow him in a club and see how it goes when he is there. But also we get to know what is his daily life and his relationship with his father.
Our second character : We will look at her daily life by showing where she lives and how she interacts with her friends. And then we show her while she is doing her activism job. From another scene, we see how the situation with her parents and family members evolves and of course her love life. We see how she lives by trying to capture all the moments that happen in her life. We will look at how she is coping with that and also the people she frequents when she goes out.
Our third character : We will use extreme shots on body and face parts to avoid to show the character completely. While shooting at her home, we will use details that are in her room to reveal her personality. Some of those are like clothes, bed, colors of walls, the value of things in there and other things that will be helpful for the story. Those will be filmed and create scenes that complete the given interview or narration.
The other characters who are not these main 3 will be like the bridge in between these 3 stories as the film flows. As the 3 stories of our main characters will be done first, we will show them to other characters (different people) and their short comments about their own opinion on the issue will be the ones to be used as the bridge from one story to another.
In 2014 I was a coordinator and a participant of a short films project called Shed light on your rights about freedom of expression. One night I happened to be at the Goethe Institut Kigali the moment they were hosting a private event about LGBTQ communities in Rwanda. Hearing all those sad and tough experiences that those people went through I thought about including that topic in that project that I was doing. I realized that being there was for a good reason – that was a call for me to rent my voice as a filmmaker and communicate that issue to the Rwandan society.
I tried all I could to make a short documentary but all the characters I cast refused to be seen and I had a very short time to complete the project as well. I did a short fiction film called SHE instead using one of the testimonies. The short film started a discussion on the topic and I received negative and positive comments but still, all I wanted to do was a documentary.
The reason why I want to make this documentary is to show the real stories so that people will understand how the situation is not fair to the LGBTQ community in Rwanda – who deserve the same rights as everyone else by the way. It was good to make a short fiction as well but it is never as powerful as those real stories through a documentary. In fiction, people may say” It never happened, it is fiction anyways!”
I believe that this film will make a change and start a discussion about the issue. It will also give the LGBTQ community a voice to claim their rights. Seeing how my own friends who are homosexuals are treated (beaten in bars, insulted on social media, living hidden love lives) it is unacceptable. All I can wish for is humanity, that the society sees this issue as their own, as none have requested the way to be born it could have been one of them or theirs – even if they don’t see it that way yet. This is the story to be told now!
Read my interview here.
Before I decided to work on this feature documentary, I also worked on a short film on the same topic, you can watch it below: