top of page
Anna Mae Lamentillo MB profile_edited.png

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Apr 6, 2024

Empathy beyond boundaries: Appolain Siewe's 'Code of Fear' unveils the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in Cameroon

Code of Fear" is a poignant and compelling documentary that delves into the roots of homophobia in Cameroon, a country where homosexuality is not just socially stigmatized but also criminally punishable. Directed by Appolain Siewe, the film emerges not just as a narrative of struggle and oppression but as a profound exploration of cultural psyche, societal norms, and the remnants of colonial legacies that continue to shape attitudes toward homosexuality in Cameroon.

The film gains its strength and authenticity from Siewe's personal connection to the country and his courage to confront uncomfortable truths. Born and raised in Cameroon, Siewe set out with the intention to understand what fuels the hatred towards homosexuals in a country he thought he knew. This journey of exploration becomes a broader inquiry into the societal and historical contexts that cultivate such deep-seated prejudices.

One of the most stirring aspects of "Code of Fear" is its dedication to Eric Lembembe, a journalist and gay rights activist brutally murdered in 2013. Lembembe's death is not just a focal point but a catalyst that influenced Siewe's perspective on LGBTQ+ rights and the urgency to address the pervasive culture of homophobia. The documentary tactfully uses this event to illustrate the dire consequences of hate, thereby fostering a deeper understanding and empathy among viewers.

Siewe's approach to the documentary is both ethical and respectful, ensuring that the narrative remains true to the experiences and voices within the LGBTQ+ community in Cameroon while navigating the sensitive balance between representation and respect for local culture. The director's own experiences of feeling alien in his homeland and abroad enrich the film's narrative, adding layers to the exploration of identity, acceptance, and the concept of being a citizen of the world.

The documentary's storytelling is deliberate and insightful, aiming to amplify the voices affected by homophobia through Siewe's filmmaking. It serves not just as a documentary but as an educational tool that sheds light on the complexities of cultural attitudes towards homosexuality and their impacts. It challenges viewers to confront their own prejudices and to consider the influence of historical, cultural, and societal norms on contemporary issues of sexuality and rights.

"Code of Fear" transcends its geographical and cultural settings to address universal themes of acceptance, empathy, and the fight for equality. The film is a testament to the power of storytelling in advocating for change and understanding. Siewe hopes the documentary will spark conversations and foster understanding about LGBTQ+ rights, both within Cameroon and beyond. Through his film, Siewe invites viewers to challenge stereotypes and promote empathy, paving the way for a world where diversity is celebrated, and equality is not just a distant dream but a tangible reality.

In his insightful interviews, Siewe reveals the depth of his engagement with the subject matter and the thoughtful considerations that guided the film's creation. His reflections offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of "Code of Fear," making it not just a film but a movement towards a more inclusive and understanding society.

Anna Mae "Anime" Yu Lamentillo Logo
bottom of page