Government Sued for Preventing Kenyan Movie From Winning Oscars

  • A Kenyan director of a film that was banned because it centred on a love story between two women sued the government so she can submit it as an Oscar nominee.

    Wanuri Kahiu, the director of Rafiki, filed the lawsuit against the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and the Attorney General.

    In order to be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a film must have been shown in the country submitting it.

    However, Rafiki which tells the story of two young women from different political backgrounds who fall in love was denied a general release by KFCB for what was termed as promoting homosexuality.

    Wanuri Kahiu at the 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival

    The deadline for Oscar nomination submissions is September 30.

    Kahiu's complaint argued that in preventing the distribution of Rafiki, the classification board violated several articles of the constitution that protect free speech and freedom of creative expression.

    Rafiki made history in April as the first Kenyan film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival and screened in Accra, Ghana; Durban, South Africa; most recently sold-out at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

    The classification board, headed by CEO Ezekiel Mutua, found that there was “a clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya” in the film, which, it stated went against the law.

    Speaking at the Toronto festival, Kahiu, stated that she did not consider herself an activist and prefered to focus on telling stories.

    KFCB CEO Ezekiel Mutua

    Kahiu stated: “But when somebody starts to infringe on your rights to be creative and exercise your work, that becomes a problem. That’s when we decided to push back and take the classification board to court.”