She influenced a sprinkle at the simply finished up Cannes To film Festival with her LGBT romantic tale film Rafiki, yet Wanuri Kahiu is miserable after the film’s boycott in Kenya.
What annoys her the most is the way that a film she made in Kenya for Kenyans can’t be viewed in Kenya.
In an ongoing selective meeting with Nairobi News, Kahiu kept up that she was inside Kenyan laws while making the film.
“It is really, really upsetting that Kenyans can’t watch this film and also because Kenyans are old enough and mature enough to make their own decisions. The film has no nudity, no drags, no cursing, it is a film that we can watch as adults. As an adult we also have the right not to watch it. KFCB has censored a film and taken away the audience’s right to decide whether or not they can watch it,” said Kahiu.
She’s also puzzled by the fact that Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) boss Ezekiel Mutua was the first person to positively talk about the movie in public.
“What people do not know is that he (Mutua) was the first person to do a press on the film. I hadn’t done any interview, he was the first person to talk about Rafiki,” she says.
Ironically, during the interview Mutua described Kahiu as a “goddess in the Kenyan film industry” whose work was unmatched adding that she had mentored fellow filmmakers.
Mutua further commended the filmmaker for telling the story of young Kenyans as it is. A week later, he banned the production for what he termed as promoting lesbianism.
According to Kahiu, Dr Mutua said the job of an artist is to reflect the society.
“These are the things that are happening in our society, we cannot hide from it. We portrayed a film that is based on what is happening in Kenya,” she says.
BLESSING IN DISGUISE
But in a way she views the ban as a blessing in disguise.
“I believe Ezekiel Mutua knew the movie would get more attention if he banned it. The only difference is, I refused to change the ending, he felt the ending was not remorseful enough.”
The filmmaker acknowledges that making a film about two women in love set in Kenya, means challenging deep rooted cynicism about same s*x relationships among actors, crew, friends, and family.
But she says her story is about all that is good and difficult about being in love, so that for those fortunate moments we are lifted above our prejudices.
The film stars Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva who received a standing ovation after it premiered in France.
“They were celebrating the fact that this is a joyful, hopeful story about Africa and that is what resonated the most, it was the joy in my film. It was what people responded to,” she says.