Kenya: Hundreds thronged cinemas to watch banned lesbian film
Dozens of Kenyans are flocking to cinemas to watch a critically acclaimed local film about a lesbian relationship after a ban was temporarily lifted.
A High Court ruling lifted the ban for only a week to enable the film Rafiki meet entry requirements for the Academy Awards, which require a movie to have been shown for at least seven consecutive days in the country of origin.
The Rafiki sold out at the weekend to a home audience in the capital, Nairobi, forcing the cinema to open a second screen. It will also be screened in two other cities – Mombasa and Kisumu.
Kenya’s Film Classification Board (FCB), which had enforced the ban, monitored the screenings in Nairobi closely to ensure only adults were permitted to watch it. Some fans had to produce identity cards to prove their age.
A section of the crowd wore T-shirts with anti-censorship slogans.
FCB head Ezekiel Mutua maintains the movie’s homosexual storyline corrupts the country’s moral fabric.
But his critics, including former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, have asked him to respect diversity and creativity.
The Rafiki tells the story of two young women who fall in love in a society where gay relationships are frowned upon.
It was the first Kenyan film to be selected for the Cannes Film festival, where it received positive reviews.
The screening in Kenya now makes Rafiki eligible for the Oscars in the foreign language category.