Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu has taken the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) to court to lift a ban on the film Rafiki to enable her to submit it for next year's Academy Awards.
KFCB banned the film on April 26 last year.
In her petition to the High Court in Kenya at Nairobi Constitutional and Human Rights Division, Kahiu says,
‘‘As a result of the ban, the 1st petitioner cannot submit the film Rafiki for review by the Oscar Selection Committee Kenya for consideration as Kenya’s entry to the Academy for the Best Foreign Film Category award at the 2019 Oscars Awards. Entries close on September 30, 2018.’’
Ms Kahiu wants the matter certified urgent and for the court to allow her to submit the film pending hearing otherwise the losses she will incur by missing the slot cannot be compensated.
She said the ban has cost her sponsorship, loss of revenue as well as reputation damage and her standing in the film industry.
“I am afraid that the act and regulations under which Rafiki was banned are a threat to freedom of artistic creativity and freedom of the media,” she says in her affidavit.
The film — adapted from an award-winning short story Jambula Tree by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko — is based on the love story of two women.
In April, KFCB banned the film citing homosexual scenes that it said were illegal in Kenya.
When the film was submitted to KFCB for rating earlier this year, KFCB chief executive Ezekiel Mutua told the makers to change the ending and have gay lovers who are the two main characters showing remorse for being in a same-sex relationship.
Kahiu refused to make the changes and explained that she made a happy film, and so the ending too should be a happy one.
In a series of Tweets, Mutua accused the film of seeking to overtly promote lesbianism.
Rafiki premiered to much acclaim and rave reviews at this year’s 71st Cannes Film Festival in May.
Homosexuality is banned in many countries in Africa and gay people face discrimination and or persecution.
In recent years, however, campaigners for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual rights have become increasingly vocal.