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"Hell or High Water" starts a necessary conversation about homosexuality in Nigeria

"Hell or High Water" doesn't justify, support or condemn homosexuality. It simply starts a necessary conversation about homphobia, sexuality and religion in Nigeria.

Hell or High Water

Over the years in Nigeria, some homosexuals have found themselves beaten to death or even lynched by angry Nigerians.

On January 13, 2014, former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which imposes penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

"Hell or High Water" tells the story of a young married pastor, who is loved and adored by the  members of his church.

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Things take a different turn for him when he has to confront his sexuality - an act that breaks him spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.

The story explores the reality of sexuality amidst spirituality and family.

In "Hell or High Water," Gbolahan (Enyinna Nwigwe) and Kelechi (Daniel K Daniel) represent hundreds of Nigerians, who, out of the fear of  becoming second-class citizens, bullied, excommunicated from church or even killed, marry a wife for appearances.

Hauwa (Chika Okeke) and Ejide (Ashionye Raccah) represent women who unfortunately find themselves in loveless marriages because their partners are battling with their sexuality.

Hauwa and Ejide's reactions to their husbands' sexuality is as realistic and believable as they come. Their characters reflect the hurt and pain that comes with being married to most homosexuals.

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Homosexuality is a spiritual matter in most homes and in "Hell or High Water," it is addressed in a scene which sees a prophet (Gregory Ojefua) flogging a younger Gbolahan to chase out the demon.

One of the movie's most powerful scene, where Gbolahan writes 'I will not do it again' on several pages of a book, communicates the battle most homosexuals fight - the urge to be free of what is widely considered an affliction.

"Hell or High Water" is simple, beautifully made and skillfully interpreted by extraordinary actors.

The movie isn't without humour as seen in a scene from the third act, which sees Gbolahan's parents address their son's predicament and their loss as a result of his sexuality.

The script also avoids those popular cliché that are usually presented in Nollywood movies with homosexuality themes. Oluseyi simply refuses to present stereotyped gay characters.

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Should homosexuals be accepted, lynched, beaten to death, rejected, prayed for or excommunicated? These are questions you might expect to be answered in "Hell or High Water." However, Oluseyi takes an open-ended route.

There are no moral judgements in "Hell or High Water" as he resists the urge to justify, support or condemn homosexuality.

With "Hell or High Water," the cast and crew bring to life a refreshing short film that starts a much-needed and rarely addressed on-screen and off-screen conversation about homosexuality, stigmatization, sexuality and spirituality.

You can watch the short film below.

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