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Kenyan Director of Cannes Lesbian Film ‘Threatened With Arrest’

Waniru Kahiu, Cannes Film Festival, Cannes 2018, Cannes
Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

“They are trying to build a case to imprison me.”

Wanuri Kahiu expected backlash for her film in her home country of Kenya. Centering on the story of two Kenyan girls who fall in love, Kahiu wasn't surprised when the film, Rafiki, named for the Swahili word for "friend," was banned by the government after she refused to censor parts of it.

Related | Maganga Mwagogo is Normalizing Queer Love in Kenya

What did surprise the director, who just premiered Rafiki at the Cannes Film Festival, was when she heard that her government may try to imprison her upon her return to Kenya. "It seems they are trying to build a case to imprison me," she said in an interview last week with the Indian newspaper, The Hindu. "Most recently I saw them tweeting that I have broken the law."

Related | Kenya Bans Disney's Andi Mack For Featuring a Gay Character

Despite the pushback from her home country's notoriously anti-gay government, Kahiu is not intimidated. "I am an artiste and it's my constitutional right to make this film. So I would do it again, and I would do it again, and I would do it again," she said. "If they want they can arrest me and we can go to court to prove I haven't broken the law. But I am going home. It's where I live. I am not going into hiding, I am not going into exile." Watch the trailer for Rafiki, below.

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Dennis Hinzmann