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Kenyan Filmmaker Overcomes Ban on Acclaimed Independent Film Rafiki

A judge has ordered a temporary lift on the ban of a film featuring a love story between two women, allowing its director to submit it for Academy Award consideration.

The ruling will allow Kenyan adults to view Wanuri Kahiu’s internationally acclaimed independent film Rafiki for the first time in the country. The movie, about two young women from opposing political backgrounds who fall in love, was banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board on April 26 for “promoting lesbianism.” Kahiu filed a lawsuit against the board on Sept. 11, claiming that banning the film violated her constitutional right to free speech and free expression as an artist.

Delivering her ruling on Friday, Justice Wilfrida Okwany said, “I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.”

Okwany added that the artistic theme or practice of homosexuality “did not begin with Rafiki.”

The decision means that Kahiu can now submit Rafiki for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Oscars. The film — which has been shown in South Africa, Toronto, and, most notably, the Cannes Film Festival — needs to have been shown in the country where it was produced for seven consecutive days in order to be eligible.



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