Leaving Africa: A Story About Friendship and Empowerment

Iiris Härmä
2015 | 84 minutes | Uganda, Finland
U.S. Premiere | Director in Attendance

In socially conservative Uganda, homosexuality has been criminalized and the Ethics and Integrity Minister recently suggested arresting any woman wearing a skirt that falls above the knee. Against the backdrop of this political environment, a Finnish doctor named Riitta has spent her professional life working tirelessly for birth control, sexual education, and gender equality alongside her Ugandan friend and housemate Catherine. After 25 years giving workshops that challenge priests, imams, and women and their husbands to discuss women’s rights to their own bodies, Riitta’s activism has finally caught up with her. Past retirement age and facing an unwanted return to Finland, she takes the measure of both her life’s work and her personal life. Leaving Africa offers a moving look at a unique relationship born in and defined by the fight against the continent’s population explosion.

Preceded by Juanita

Co-presented by New York African Film Festival and the Finnish Film Foundation


Thresholds, My Perspective

"One of the storylines in my film Leaving Africa touched deeply my heart and I would love to share it. It is a story of Daizy, who is 34-year-old woman, a mother, and a caregiver for eight children and five AIDS orphans. I followed her life during filming and I saw what kind of challenges and hardship she and many other women had to face in their life in developing countries. It was incredibly inspiring to witness the positive turn in her life when she was encouraged and supported to push gender boundaries and make individual decisions. Her journey from realization and awakening to action demanded courage and strength."

- Iiris Härmä| Director, Leaving Africa