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Acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu’s (FROM A WHISPER) teen lesbian romance RAFIKI became something of a cinematic cause celebre in 2018. Despite the honour of being the first Kenyan film selected to screen at Cannes, where is premiered in Un Certain Regard, it was nevertheless banned in Kenya for positively portraying 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.
Inspired by Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko’s 2007 Caine Prize-winning story ‘Jambula Tree’, RAFIKI is first and foremost a tender love story depicting the romance between two young women amid familial, societal and political pressures.
In Nairobi, Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) is helping her father campaign for a local election when she meets and befriends Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), the daughter of his rival. As their relationship deepens, so do its stakes, forcing them to choose between openness and secrecy, happiness and safety.
Confident and polished, a brave and ground-breaking work with a fresh and unfussy chemistry between its two leads.