Kenyan producer and writer-director Wanuri Kahiu of the now famous Cannes-celebrated but Kenya-banned Rafiki film has signed with a top Hollywood management and production company The Gotham Group.
This comes just a week after Rafiki made history as Kenya’s first feature film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
“Wanuri Kahiu is a prodigiously talented and brilliant woman,” said Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, founder and chief executive of The Gotham Group.
“As an advocate for Africans, especially young women, Wanuri has established herself as a major cultural force. That she refused to edit Rafiki in any way to avoid the Kenyan ban is a testament to Wanuri’s courage and commitment to her creative vision”
Rafiki which means “friend” in Swahili, is a love story of two women, Kena and Ziki, who fall in love despite their family rivalry, and in a society where same-sex relationships are forbidden.
Even before the historic Cannes premier, Rafiki was banned by the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) on grounds that it promotes lesbianism.
“In our difficult times, and I say this despite the serious themes in much of my work, I also believe film – and television – needs images of joy and frivolity as well,” Kahiu said.
“My hope is that the whole dimension of the human spirit, in Africa and around the world, be reflected in my work.”
Rafiki joins a list of Kenyan films which have been celebrated and awarded internationally that include Watu Wote, Nairobi Half Life, Supa Modo, Kati Kati and Stories of Our Lives.
Kahiu’s 2008 feature From a Whisper, is based on the bombings of the US embassy in Nairobi, and her short sci-fi film, Pumzi, is a haunting parable about a world without water, which has won multiple awards.