‘This film has a life outside of me and that makes me really proud’

  • Photo by Akil Simmons
Kareem Mortimer has created a movie about two Bahamian men who fall in love, amid a homophobic society.

    Photo by Akil Simmons Kareem Mortimer has created a movie about two Bahamian men who fall in love, amid a homophobic society.

Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer will screen ‘Children of God’ and participate in a Q&A organised by the Centre for Justice

By Nadia Arandjelovic

When Kareem Mortimer decided to make a film about a gay couple in the Bahamas, he had no idea its message would resonate with communities around the world.

But his movie ‘Children of God’, telling the story of two young men who fall in love within a homophobic Island community, has made its way to more than 100 international film festivals and accumulated 17 awards.

The Bahamian filmmaker is currently on Island and looking forward to showing the movie to local audiences tonight at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.

The Centre for Justice event, also featuring a question-and-answer session, starts at 6pm.

Mr Mortimer, 31, said: “I hope it’s a good crowd and that people are interested and I hope that it gets people talking.

“I am not from around here so I can’t answer questions that pertain to specific issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) advocacy in Bermuda, but I hope this is a catalyst to get people engaged in dialogue.

“I hope what the film offers is accessibility and people invest their time and get involved in the characters and have feelings about it.”

The director and screenwriter said this wasn’t just a movie for GLBT audiences, but hoped it provided the wider community with a chance to talk openly about the issues at hand.

He said: “I do not consider myself a political activist, but I do consider myself an artist and I felt there was a need to speak about this issue in the place where I was from and give people a language to address homophobia, because it was a really taboo subject.”

Mr Mortimer was educated in the United States, but returned to the Bahamas in 2004.

The issue of homosexuality was a very divisive one and wasn’t widely spoken about on the island, he said.

His film was shown in Rawson Square — the same place where Bahamians protested against lesbian actress Rosie O’Donnell in 2004.

He said he didn’t make the film in 2009 with the intent of getting recognised. “I wasn’t thinking we would be one of the first [GLBT] movies or it would go on to this or that festival. I just saw a need for something and wanted to do my part to fulfill this need.”

He said it was an easy choice to come to Bermuda and share the film with potentially new viewers here.

“I have some distant ancestry from Bermuda and I kind of wanted to check it out.

“I find it’s a community that is not dissimilar from the place that I call home in Bahamas, and [while] this film has shown through all of Europe and the US, what is important to me is that the film resonate in the island community and they have access to it.

“This is an opportunity for me to sort of bring the film to an island community which is a really rare treat,” he added.

The film has reached far away communities in Italy and Mexico; it was also named one of the top ten films of 2010 on BET.com. Mr Mortimer said: “I acknowledge this film has a life outside of me and that makes me really proud.

“I hope [people who watch] see the humanity that exists in all of us. Not every character in this film is gay, there are three antagonists, so I hope when people leave they are able to communicate with the people they love and are open.

“The message is we need to risk speaking and acting on our true feelings in order to have a happy and successful life and I hope that is something that comes out.”

The Centre for Justice organised the event in a bid to spark discussion about equality in Bermuda. The group also hopes to continue with its campaign to add sexual orientation to the Human Rights Act 1981.

A spokesperson said: “It is our collective hope that the film will serve as a platform for advancing our social dialogue around equality in Bermuda, particularly with respect to sexual orientation, but equally importantly, an amendment to the Human Rights Act 1981 to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

A petition to amend the act will be available at the event. For more information visit the group’s website, www.justice.bm.

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Published Aug 23, 2012 at 8:16 am (Updated Aug 23, 2012 at 8:16 am)

‘This film has a life outside of me and that makes me really proud’

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