Kenyan Gay Film Crew Gets Standing Ovation at Cannes Festival
By Eddy Kagera
The crew of the banned gay film Rafiki received a standing ovation on Thursday night at the Cannes 2018 in France.
Film’s director Wanuri Kahiu, and actresses Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva held hands and giggled as top movie makers, directors and rose up to honour their contribution in furthering the rights of LGBT community in Kenya.
Lesbian romance #Rafiki’s director Wanuri Kahiu, and stars Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva received a standing ovation last night at #Cannes2018. Read our review of the film: https://t.co/UOoKmmydd7 pic.twitter.com/U6I83tDjKQ
— Variety (@Variety) May 10, 2018
The movie got strong response at the film festival where it premiered this week, according to The Star.
Rafiki hardly breaks new narrative ground, but Kahiu’s fluid direction and wholly empathetic performances by Mugatsia and Munyiva make the movie special. It’s a good bet it will hit the fall festival circuit, with TIFF a likely stop,” wrote movie reviewer Peter Howell in The Star.
Rafiki — meaning “friend” in Swahili — is adapted from a prize-winning short story called Jambula Tree by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko.
The film, telling the tale of two young women whose fathers are political rivals, is the first-ever film from Kenya to get a slot at the world’s most prestigious cinema festival. It premieres tomorrow in the “Un Certain Regard” category, reserved for emerging directors or unexpected or marginal themes.
The ban was announced by Ezekiel Mutua, the self-described “fervent moral crusader” who runs the Kenya Film Classification Board and has described his job as “upholding our cultural and moral values through content regulation.”
He railed against the film for seeking to “normalise homosexuality in Kenya” and condemned it for showing “the resilience of the youngsters involved in lesbianism.”
He demanded that director Wanuri Kahiu cut the “offensive classifiable elements”, including “romantic scenes” and “a happy ending”.