Kenya | 2018 | 83 min. | Wanuri Kahiu

February 8, 2022

Bursting with the colorful street style and music of Nairobi’s vibrant youth culture, Rafiki is a tender love story between two young women in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality.

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BANNED! Outlaws - Hybrid Film Talk

Week 5 of BANNED! will focus on Martin Scorsese’s controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki (2018), a Kenyan film banned in its home country for it’s positive depiction of lesbian romance.

Kena and Ziki have long been told that “good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives”—but they yearn for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls encourage each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, Kena and Ziki must choose between happiness and safety.

Initially banned in Kenya for its positive portrayal of queer romance, Rafiki won a landmark supreme court case chipping away at Kenyan anti-LGBT legislation. Featuring remarkable performances by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, Rafiki is a hip tale of first love “reminiscent of the early work of Spike Lee” (Screen Daily) that’s “impossible not to celebrate” (Variety)!

  • Director: Wanuri Kahiu
  • Principal Cast: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Jimmi Gathu, Nini Wacera, Dennis Musyoka
  • Country: Kenya
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 83 min.
  • Producer: Steven Markovitz
  • Screenplay: Wanuri Kahiu, Jenna Bass
  • Cinematographers: Christopher Wessels
  • Editors: Isabelle Dedieu
  • Awards: Oscars 2019 (Foreign Language Film - Official Selection)
  • Language: English, Swahili
  • US Distributor: Film Movement