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Directed by Wanuri Kahiu
Kenya/South Africa, Narrative, 2018, 83 mins., in English and Swahili with English subtitles

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.. (program concludes at 1:30 p.m.)

Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave. (inside the Portland Art Museum)

Themes & Subjects: Kenyan Culture, LGBTQ, Women’s Rights, Class & Classicism, Adolescence, Family Relations

Synopsis:  “Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena and Ziki long for something more.

A star-crossed love story between two young women, Kena (Samantha Muatsia) and Zika (Sheila Munyiva), whose fathers are political adversaries in a small Kenyan town. Using a traditional narrative structure to tell a still-taboo story (Kenya continues to criminalize homosexuality), the yearnings of a first romance condemned by family and community are presented in a delightfully sweet and vibrant visual palette. As director Kahiu describes, “My brand is something we call Afrobubblegum, which is fun, fierce, and frivolous African art…it’s important to see black people in joy, in hope, and see them in beautiful, loving ways.”

Outside of a seven-day single theatre run that allowed Rafiki the chance for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination, the film has been banned in Kenya. The film was based on Jambula Tree an award winning short story by Monica Arac de Nyeko.

Resources for teachers:

Rafiki Press Kit, including Director bio, interview, and other links.

NPR News Article.

Hollywood Reporter review and interview with director.


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