Rafiki, dir. Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya 2018, 82 min., Swahili with English subtitles
Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) lives on a Nairobi housing estate with her mother. Helping her father, convenience store owner John, campaign for a local election, she befriends Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), the daughter of his political rival. As Kena and Ziki’s relationship deepens, so do the stakes, forcing them to choose between openness and secrecy, happiness and safety.
Acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu’s (From a Whisper) teen lesbian romance Rafiki became something of a cinematic cause célèbre in 2018. Despite the honour of being the first Kenyan film selected to screen at Cannes, where it premiered in Un Certain Regard, it was nevertheless banned in Kenya for positively portraying and ‘promoting’ homosexuality, illegal in the country. After Kahiu sued the government, and following an outcry from the international film community, the Kenyan High Court eventually lifted the ban; though sadly only for seven days in September 2018.
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