Kickstarter-backed Documentary ‘An Abominable Crime’ Aims to Expose Homophobia in Jamaica [Interview]
Do you think of Jamaica as a country where gays and lesbians are hunted down in the streets? Micah Fink, an award winning producer, director, and writer, aims to expose homophobia in Jamaica with his documentary, An Abominable Crime.
The Kickstarter project for the film has raised nearly $7,000 from 135 backers, with a goal of $35,000.
An Abominable Crime is a documentary “that explores the culture of homophobia in Jamaica through the eyes of two Jamaicans who are forced to chose between their homeland and their lives — after their sexual orientations are exposed…”
Equalitopia had the pleasure of interviewing Micah Fink about the project:
Equalitopia: Could you briefly tell us about yourself?
Micah Fink: I’m a film maker with more than 15 years of experience producing films about critical social issues. I’ve made films for CNN, National Geographic, HBO, and PBS. I’ve made a number of films about HIV/AIDS, particularly one called AIDS Warriors for PBS Wide Angle — which was filmed with the Angolan military just after the end of their civil war — and was the first look at the impact of HIV/AIDS on a national military. That work led me eventually to produce a series of short films on Jamaica for PBS — because the Island has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world (nearly 32 percent in the gay male community). So why should the virus thrive in Jamaica — more than elsewhere? The answer was two cultural factors — a deeply rooted culture of homophobia (which we explore in the current film “An Abominable Crime”) as well as the crippling legacy of 19th century anti-gay laws inherited from the British Empire. This realization led me to begin work on “An Abominable Crime.”
With almost $7,000 raised and 18 days to go, how are you feeling about your Kickstarter campaign?
I am amazed by Kickstarter and the response we’ve gotten so far. We’ve gotten so many donations and messages of support from people around the world who have heard about Jamaica — but never really understood the details. Why is Jamaica so violently homophobic… why are so many people being forced to run away from their homeland?
How do you feel about the media coverage of homophobia in Jamaica?
Apart from the coverage of the “murder music” — popular Jamaican dance hall music that calls for the murder of gays and lesbians — there has really been very little coverage of this issue. Human Right Watch did a report nearly a decade ago — but for the most part this remains little reported and little understood. I’m hoping that this film will allow a global audience to connect with Simone as a mother — and with Maurice as a husband — to understand the devastating impact that homophobia has had on their lives… Gay rights are human rights — and this film makes that reality clear on a powerfully intimate and personal level. Also, even though “gay flight” is now a reality for many LBGT people — I don’t think a film has ever been made depicting the journeys and experiences of those being forced to seek asylum abroad because of discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
What impact are you hoping this film will have?
I’m hoping that this film will help encourage Jamaica to rethink its embrace of anti-gay laws and anti-gay violence — and also help to humanize the lives and experiences of its victims so they become impossible to ignore.
What has been the toughest part of making this film?
Making a film about lesbians and gays in Jamaica (we’ve filmed there six different times) is fraught with the most obvious dangers and risks, not just for the film crew, but also for our main characters whose lives were constantly at stake. The courage and dedication of both Simone and Maurice can’t be underestimated — and I am in awe of both of them.
With your time in Jamaica, what’s one thing you’ve learned that might surprise most people?
I think most people think of Jamaica as a vacation paradise — but they seldom venture beyond the beaches and resorts into the real Jamaica. If they did, I think they would discover the reality that was lived by Maurice and Simone is quite a brutal one — and I think their feelings about the country (lovely as it is) might change.
Some sources mention differences (both legally and public opinion) between gay men and gay women in Jamaica. Does the film deal with both male and female homosexuality in Jamaica?
We have two main characters. Simone is a Lesbian mother. Maurice is a gay man. While their experiences are similar — class, education and gender all shaped their lives in very different ways. Maurice is a well educated Lawyer. Simone was a hair dresser. Class definitely softens the impacts of homophobia is Jamaica — because those who have privileged lives travel in private cars and can avoid public transport and can afford more privacy in every aspect of their lives. But that said, I heard over and over again, how Jamaica is a very small Island nation — and once your privacy is breached, regardless of your gender, the consequences can be quite abrupt and quite deadly.
So far, how has the reception of this project been?
The Kickstarter campaign is the first time the film has been publicized, and so far the response has been very encouraging. We also just got an amazing show of support for the film from the Pulizer Center on Crisis Reporting is going to match all donations going forward — to help us get to our $35,000 goal. All the money raised will go directly into producing the film — and we’ve got just 21 days left in the campaign — so I’m really hoping we make it!
Why should people contribute to your Kickstarter project?
People should contribute because “An Abominable Crime” tells a story that should be told.
While progress on LGBT rights is being made remarkably quickly in the US — and even in the UK — there are still places in the world — like Jamaica and Uganda — where people are being killed for their sexual orientation.
Jamaica is unique because it is a country that depends on tourism as its main source of revenue — and if the “tourists” were aware of what was happening — and voted with their feet — I think the reality on the ground in Jamaica might change very very quickly. The police would take anti-gay crimes seriously - and prosecute them. The government would rethink the anti-Sodomy law, and, in the end, LGBT lives would likely be saved. That’s why I think people should contribute to getting this story out into the world.
Pledge a donation to the project on Kickstarter
Remember: Pledges are now being matched dollar for dollar by the Pulizer Center on Crisis Reporting. Your donations will be doubled!
An Abominable Crime is also on Twitter and Facebook.