Together with Amnesty International, we are organizing a screening of this beautiful and controversial award-winning debut film by director Wanuri Kahiu. Rafiki is forbidden in her home country Kenia, just like its subject matter: the blossoming relationship between two women. The film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival and IFFR, and what not many know: it has a Dutch angle. Amsterdam-based producer Rinkel Film made sure the Netherlands Film Fund contributed to Rafiki and acting coach Elisabeth Hesemans helped shoot the film in Kenia – albeit in the deepest secret. Selen and Hesemans will share their experiences and introduce this special one-time screening at KINO.
A love story between two young women (played by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) in a country where homosexuality is still illegal, Rafiki is saturated with joy, heartbreak, and a richly effervescent cinematography that showcases director Wanuri Kahiu’s native Nairobi in all its vibrancy. When Kena and Ziki first lock eyes, it’s a genuine coup de foudre despite the fact their families are political rivals. The young women grow close, but as they are not able to show their attraction in public — or even to their relatives and friends — they are forced to sneak small moments in private. Together they create their own world, vividly evoked through Kahiu’s filmic eye, where their love isn’t anything other than an expression of their commitment to each other. The space they create, however, isn’t immune to the biases of the outside world. Inspired by Monica Arac de Nyeko’s story Jambula Tree, Rafiki is a celebration of love. In 2018, a Kenyan high court temporarily lifted the country’s ban on the film. It screened for one week in Kenya — to sold-out crowds — making it eligible for submission to the Academy Awards’ Foreign Language Film category.