“Everyone is on their own journey and no society has the right to deny someone’s destiny. We are all looking for one thing, happiness, and this film is part of that journey.”Willis Austin Chimano, Musician, Sauti Sol
“Very powerful. Unlike anything ever seen from the African continent.”Bisi Alimi, LGBT Advocate
“One of the most impacting and breathtaking reflections of intersex and trans life. Sidney and his friends’ courage, bravery and pain will move mountains.”Intersex UK
About the Film
When his family tries to kill him, Sidney, who is intersex, flees to Nairobi where he meets a group of transgender friends. Together, they fight discrimination and discover life, love and self-worth.
Sidney grew up in rural western Kenya. He didn’t like wearing skirts or doing chores that girls are traditionally supposed to do, preferring herding cattle and playing football. Sidney was born intersex, but Sidney only knew he was different. Growing up, he found these differences increasingly made him stand out in the community, a source of concern to family members that manifested itself into chastisement, castigation, and hate.
His family say he is possessed by demons, demons that make him want to become a man. When Sidney fled from his family’s prejudice, he was forced from slum to slum, stripped in public and beaten. His life changed when he eventually met a group of transgender friends. For the first time in his life, Sidney was no longer alone…
Feature documentary Sidney & Friends is a heartfelt exploration of the hopes, dreams, and everyday reality of a group of intersex and transgender friends fighting to survive on the edge of Kenyan society. Join Sidney and his new friends as they share what it is like to grow up and live as a gender minority, in a region known for prejudice and discrimination against its LGBTI population. Filmed over 3 years, our friends reveal the secrets of their struggles with poignancy and sometimes also humour. The premise is simple; it’s about gender, friendship…and love.
In 2013 I travelled to Kenya to visit my sister but a meeting with Guillit, a transboi and activist would change the course of the next 4 years of my life. Guillit just wanted to be heard. He told me other members of the transgender and intersex community, living on the edge of society, wanted to speak out too.
I was welcomed into the small community where other filmmakers and journalists had been refused access. Over a two-month period, I got to know six members of this community. Despite the risks involved, all were determined to tell their story.
Some interviews were incredibly difficult. Our contributors have suffered traumatic life events and there were several times I had chills at what I was being told. Sidney recalls one occasion he was being beaten by a group with clubs and sticks while his mother just stood and watched. He also told me about an incident where he was beaten, stripped, and left for dead in the street by a gang. A kind doctor paid for a motorcycle taxi to take him home. When the driver dropped him off, Sidney’s father turned to the driver and said, “If she is not dead, take her away, because I have already started digging her grave.”
This film is guerrilla and zero-budget. We have been able to complete the film through incredible hard work from our post-production team whom have contributed their talents and time. I have been generously supported by ScreenHI and XpoNorth, who promote the screen and broadcast industry in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
The creative vision was to produce a feature that shows the reality of living as transgender or intersex in Africa and show the day to day obstacles and hurdles that people from this community face the world over. I always wanted to do this in a way that is not sensationalist but soft and touching, the sort of film you would want to give a hug to…that is Sidney & Friends. — Tristan Aitchison
Meet The Team Behind The Film