Although the LGBTQ Kenyan film “Rafiki” was banned in its home country by its ratings board before it screened at Cannes last week, director Wanuri Kahiu and her collaborators received support from a different government film agency earlier today—the Kenyan Film Commission.
In a press conference in Nairobi, chairman Christopher Foot called out the East African country’s ratings board for violations against freedom of expression. “It is a ridiculous notion that you ban a movie because it contains an illegal subject matter,” Foote said, according to The AFP. (In Kenya, laws banning homosexuality that date back to British colonial rule remain on the books.)
According to Kenya’s The Star, Foote went on to say that the board’s actions are hindering the growth of an industry that has made much progress in recent years, and also brought up the fact that films containing violence, criminal activity, and terrorism have not been subject to censure. “This is about the freedom of expression, the freedom of media, freedom to tell stories, and all this is set out in the constitution,” Foot added.
“Rafiki,” a moving love story centering around two young women in Nairobi who happen to be the daughters of rival politicians, received a standing ovation at Cannes last week, where it made history as the first Kenyan film to screen at the prestigious festival. Earlier this week, Film Movement acquired U.S. distribution rights to the offering, Variety reported, and the film is set for a release in New York, Los Angeles, and five other cities later this year.