Movie director sues KFCB for banning ‘Rafiki’

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

The director of ‘Rafiki’ movie has sued Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) for banning the film on grounds that it legitimises lesbianism.

Director Wanuri Kahiu and the Creative Economy Working Group filed the petition challenging KFCB’s decision under a certificate of urgency on Tuesday.

Justice Wilfrida Okwany directed the petitioners to serve KFCB and other parties to appear in court today for further directions.

The petitioners argue that the ban is against freedom of expression, freedom of artistic creativity and goes beyond the provisions of Article 33 of the Constitution of Kenya.

“As filmmakers, creative and storytellers we believe in the intrinsic value of our work. We believe freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any democracy,” reads the petition in part. KFCB banned the movie in April, saying it promotes lesbianism.

But Wanuri argues that the ban hurts the film’s chances for selection  for 2019 Oscars because it must have been released in Kenya first. The deadline for a release in Kenya is September 30.

“Without lifting the ban the film cannot be considered for selection under the Best Foreign Language Film category,” they argued.

Rafiki was the first Kenyan film to debut at the Cannes Film Festival. It was adapted from an award-winning short story “Jambula Tree” by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko.

The petitioners are challenging 12 sections of the Film and Stage Plays Act and the Kenya Film and Classification Board Classification Guidelines, 2012.

These sections criminalise free expression through film, limit freedom of filmmakers to seek, receive or impart information or ideas, restrict freedom of artistic creativity and limit freedom of expression

Wanuri said: “The opportunities for more Kenyans especially the youth to participate in the film sector is immense. We should not let colonial laws stop us from achieving this.”

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