Last week it was announced that Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki would be the first Kenyan feature film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month. Rafiki, which translates to “Friend” in English, tells the story of two young women (Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) who fall in love in a community where homosexuality is not accepted.
Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that Kenya has officially banned the film from showing at Cannes, saying that the motion picture has a “clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya, contrary to the law,” Hollywood Reporter states. In Kenya, sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex can result in up to 14 years in prison, the site also reports.
The board’s statement about Rafiki read as follows, “It is our considered view that the moral of the story in this film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya. Any attempt to introduce and normalize homosexuality in Kenya flies in the face of the law and the constitution and must be resisted.”
The board accused Kahiu of changing the original script, which they claim didn’t have romantic scenes between the lead actresses. After asking Kahiu to edit out the “offensive” parts, she refused and asked the board to make their decision instead.
Kahiu reportedly told the Associated Press, “I think that there are discerning audiences not only in Kenya but the entire world that are able to judge what’s good and bad, and it’s not what’s defined by the Kenya Film Classification board,” adding “It’s limiting freedom of expression of artists in the country, and hence the growth of the industry.”
Thoughts? Watch the trailer for Rafiki up top and click here for more on the film’s ban.