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Kenyan lesbian film 'Rafiki' to be screened at IU Cinema this week



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"Rafiki" plays at 10 p.m. March 8 at IU Cinema. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Once-banned 2018 Kenyan lesbian film “Rafiki” will be shown at 7 p.m. March 7 and at 10 p.m. March 8 at the IU Cinema. 

“Rafiki” explores the lives of two young girls in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Kena, played by Samantha Mugatsia, and Ziki, played by Sheila Munyiva, are friends despite their families’ political rivalries. Kena is more of a tomboy, and Ziki is a free spirit.

The two girls have been told their whole lives that good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives. However, they continue to encourage each other to achieve their dreams despite their conservative society. Although homosexuality is still criminalized in Kenya, Ziki and Kena fall in love. The two must choose to pursue their relationship, or stay safe and ignore their feelings. 

The film was initially banned in Kenya after a letter by the Kenya Film Classification Board  claimed that the film “undermined the sensibilities” of Kenyans, a country with laws criminalizing same-sex relationships. 

Director Wanuri Kahiu claimed banning the film was against her constitutional rights and would keep the movie from being shown at the Oscars, as one of the requirements of nomination is that the film must be shown for at least a week in its home country. 

Kahiu sued the Kenyan government and ultimately won the case. However, the film was not selected as Kenya’s submission in the category.

"Rafiki" runs approximately one hour and 23 minutes. Tickets are $4 for students and $7 for non-students and are available online or at the door.

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