September 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Kenya lifts ban on lesbian film ‘Rafiki,’ giving it Oscar eligibility

Sheila Munyiva and Samantha Mugatsia in “Rafiki’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

Kenya’s ban on the film “Rafiki” has been lifted temporarily making it eligible for consideration at the Academy Awards.

“Rafiki” tells the story of two women Kena (Samantha Muatsia) and Zika (Sheila Munyiva) whose fathers are rivals in a local election. Despite the families’ rivalry, the pair sparks a romantic connection.

Kenya’s Film and Classification Board (KFCB) announced the film was banned “due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and dominant values of the Kenyans.”

According to BuzzFeed, director Wanuri Kahiu filed a lawsuit with the country’s high court saying the decision violated “her constitutional right to free speech and free expression as an artist.”

Justice Wilfrid Okwany ruled in Kahiu’s favor on Friday.

“I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film,” Okwany said in her ruling.

The film’s ban will be lifted for seven days for  “willing adults” to view in Nairobi from Sept. 23-29. Kahiu will also be able to submit the film for Oscar consideration for Best Foreign Language Film. The Academy Awards require a film to be screened in the country where it was produced for seven consecutive days to be eligible for submission.

Kahiu celebrated the win on Twitter posting “I am crying. In a french airport. In SUCH Joy! Our constitution is STRONG! Give thanks to freedom of expression!!!! WE DID IT!.”

“Rafiki” already made history earlier this year as the first Kenyan film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

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