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by Nduta Waweru, at 11:19 am, April 13, 2018, Culture

First Kenyan Film at the Cannes Festival explores gay love

Scene from Wanuri Kahiu's new film Cannes [Twitter]

It is a historic time for Wanuri Kahiu, whose film Rafiki made it to the 71st edition of Cannes Film Festival.


Rafiki (Kiswahili for a friend) is the first ever film to make it to the Festival. It explores the love story of two girls from a housing estate in Nairobi. Kena and Ziki, the daughters of rival politicians, find themselves drawn to each other, and soon after their affection grows into love. They are forced to look for ways to love each other in a country struggling with LGBTQ rights.

When they are discovered, they are forced to choose between safety and life.

According to Kahiu, the story was inspired by the winner of the 2007 Caine Prize, Jambula Tree By Arc de Nyeko.

“Making a film about two women in love, set in Kenya, means challenging deep-rooted cynicism about same-sex relationships among actors, crew friends, and family,” Kahiu, who has also directed Pumzi, said.

Pumzi was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program.

Rafiki is Kahiu’s second feature film after From a Whisper, which released in 2009.

The film is produced by Steven Markovitz of Big World Cinema who has produced a number of award-winning fiction and documentaries.

The International Festival de Cannes, one of the world’s most widely publicised events, is set to take place from May 8 to 17, 2018.

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