As a director, I am drawn to stories of individuals who confront personal traumas of their past. Faith was eager to share the story of her attack, believing it would be cathartic for her and inspiring to others. She pointed out how dangerous but necessary it felt to go back to Kenya and show her wife where she came from. In the weeks leading up to our trip, Faith grew increasingly anxious about our safety and how the Kenyans would react to them.
Throughout our time filming and interviewing in Kenya, I tried to get to the bottom of why homophobia prevailed in Kenya, how Faith’s friends and family really felt about her, and how Faith felt about re-visiting the place where she was attacked for her sexuality. But as the trip went on, another unexpected question kept presenting itself: How is this trip affecting Faith and Jenny’s relationship with each other?
Not only do Faith and Jenny have completely different personalities, but they come from almost opposite upbringings. When Jenny sees the “real Faith”, as Faith describes herself in her homeland of Kenya, it is a side of her wife she has never seen before. While Faith deals with the emotions stirred up by being back in Kenya, Jenny's anxiety reaches new levels as she tries to figure out where she fits in to Faith's complicated life. With the added stress of traveling, filming, and taking care of their son, Faith and Jenny’s relationship is deeply strained by this trip.
While working on this documentary, I felt like there were a million different stories that could have been told, and just as many different angles from which to approach those stories. There's the entire painful history of violence against the queer community in Kenya (or as Kenyans told me -- Africa as a whole), and there's the brave story of a woman coming out to her father in her 40s. But I did not expect to find the story of how Faith's painful past would affect not only her, but her relationship with her wife. This was the story I wanted to tell.
I hope that seeing mixed-race and same-sex couples like Faith and Jenny represented onscreen provides a sense of comfort for people who fear that the world does not have a place for them. It is crucial not only to share the stories of triumph over adversity, but to show that Jenny and Faith face the same struggles of work, parenting, and love as heterosexual couples do.
I am honored that Faith has trusted me to make this documentary about her life. Now more than ever, we need to see strong females of diverse backgrounds both on- and off-screen. I hope that this documentary gives a spirited voice to an under-represented demographic, hopefully inspiring those still struggling, and enlightening others who are unaware of their existence.
- Molly Pelavin