The documentary film "2 Men and a Wedding" looks at the case of Malawians Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, two gay lovers, who were sentenced to 14 years in prison following their public engagement.
JOHANNESBURG - The Tri-Continental Human Rights Festival has placed local filmmaker Sara Blecher&39;s film "2 Men and a Wedding" on the programme. Through the film, Blecher tackles the implications of being gay in Africa.
In December 2009 a public engagement ceremony in Blantyre, Malawi, resulted in the arrest of two men - no ordinary engagement by Malawian standards.
Hearing about the incident, Bletcher managed to secure funding for the documentary and began her research.
Expecting a severe judgement, the small crew made sure to be at the hearing of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Malawi. There was no way to make contact with the accused, as they had been isolated from the foreign media, during the trial.
"We took a huge risk, and went into court with a hidden camera, which they discovered."
"It was pretty terrifying, actually" Bletcher told eNCA, describing their detention.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga appeared in court, in May 2010, where the judge ruled them guilty of "buggery" and "carnal knowledge".
Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa, handed down the maximum of 14 years in prison, with hard labour - in what he called a "scaring sentence".
Following International outcry, and threats by donors to withdraw aid, President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned the two. Although not without expressing his continued opposing views.
“These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws”
Blecher feels the Tri-continental Human Rights Festival is a relevent platform for "2 Men and a Wedding".
"I love the Tri-Continental, I think it&39;s a festival that brings films and issues to audiences, an incredibly intelligent and in-depth way."
She hopes her film puts the sensitive issue of homophobia in Africa back on the table and that it encourages further discussion. She believes Malawi’s laws will eventually make room for gay rights, especially under the positive leadership of new President Joyce Banda.