- Drama, Romance
- 1h 22m
- Kenya, South Africa, France, Lebanon, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, United States
Price: $4.99 + taxes and fees
Bonus Content: Rental includes over 20 minutes of bonus content, including a Q&A with director Wanuri Kahiu from TIFF 2018. Scroll down to watch.
The latest from Wanuri Kahiu charts a precarious love story between two young Kenyan women in a society where homosexuality is banned.
A love story between two young women (played by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) in a country where homosexuality is still illegal, Rafiki is saturated with joy, heartbreak, and a richly effervescent cinematography that showcases director Wanuri Kahiu’s native Nairobi in all its vibrancy. When Kena and Ziki first lock eyes, it’s a genuine coup de foudre despite the fact their families are political rivals. The young women grow close, but as they are not able to show their attraction in public — or even to their relatives and friends — they are forced to sneak small moments in private. Together they create their own world, vividly evoked through Kahiu’s cinematic eye, where their love isn’t anything other than an expression of their commitment to each other. The space they create, however, isn’t immune to the biases of the outside world.
In April 2018, the Kenya Film Classification Board demanded Kahiu change the ending of Rafiki because it was not “remorseful” enough. When Kahiu refused, the film was banned — and Kahiu sued the board for violating her freedom of expression. In September 2018, the Kenyan high court temporarily lifted the ban so Rafiki could screen for one week in its home country — to sold-out crowds — making it eligible for submission to the 2019 Academy Awards’ Foreign Language Film category.
Inspired by Monica Arac de Nyeko’s story Jambula Tree, Rafiki is a celebration of love grounded in the AfroBubbleGum movement, which was co-founded by Kahiu and emphasizes a “fun, fierce and frivolous” representation of Africa through art. The film’s exploration of the political and cultural realities that affect the girls’ love story is balanced with intense neon colours, a youthful soundtrack, and hopeful vibe.
Official Selection, 2018 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisories: homophobic violence and language, sexist language, sexual innuendo, coarse language