Directed by Wanuri Kahiu
Film Movement
83 Minutes
English, Swahili
LGBTQ, African Diaspora, Drama
Not Rated

Bursting with the colorful street style & music of Nairobi’s vibrant youth culture, RAFIKI is a tender love story between two young women in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality. Kena and Ziki have long been told that “good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives” - but they yearn for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls encourage each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, Kena and Ziki must choose between happiness and safety.

Initially banned in Kenya for its positive portrayal of queer romance, RAFIKI won a landmark supreme court case chipping away at Kenyan anti-LGBT legislation. Featuring remarkable performances by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva, RAFIKI is a hip tale of first love “reminiscent of the early work of Spike Lee” (Screen Daily) that’s “impossible not to celebrate” (Variety)!

Director & Cast




  • "[A]t home, where homosexuality remains a criminal offense, “Rafiki” has been slapped with a ban for its positive representation — a state of affairs that makes this lively, brightly performed film impossible not to celebrate...."
    Guy Lodge, Variety
  • "[A] vibrant, pulsing piece of work, keying off the joy of young love and unexpected discovery. "
    Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
  • "[W]ith Rafiki, the director has produced a wholly new vision of African filmmaking that is vibrant, compassionate, and joyous."
    Sarah-Tai Black, Cinema Scope
  • "A burst of unfiltered teenage energy. Lively and full of vision! [Kahiu] has a wonderful eye for detail and lyricism."
    Emily Yoshida, Vulture
  • "A dynamic, smoothly-executed tale of impossible love that brings fresh energy to a subject that may seem overly familiar to western eyes. ...[R]eminiscent of the early work of Spike Lee."
    Allan Hunter, Screen Daily
  • "[B]y framing an effervescent lesbian romance against a backdrop of political allegiance and the societal taboos surrounding LGBTQ rights, Rafiki finds its voice – and deserves to shout it, loud and clear."
    Ella Kemp, Dazed
  • "The story's simplicity and directness are a big part of its charm."
    Nicholas Barber, BBC.com

Now Playing

Toronto Int'l Film Festival Toronto ON September 6, 2018 September 16, 2018
Montréal Festival du Nouveau Cinema Montréal QC October 3, 2018 October 14, 2018
Reel Pride Film Festival Winnipeg MB October 9, 2018 October 14, 2018
Chicago International Film Festival Chicago IL October 10, 2018 October 21, 2018
Mill Valley Film Festival San Rafael CA October 12, 2018 October 13, 2018
OUTshine Film Festival Miami FL October 18, 2018 October 28, 2018
Art Gallery of Hamilton Hamilton ON October 19, 2018 October 19, 2018
Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Fest Kitchener ON October 20, 2018 October 20, 2018
Independent Film Festival Boston Cambridge MA October 20, 2018 October 20, 2018
TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival Seatttle WA October 21, 2018 October 21, 2018
Milwaukee Film Milwaukee WI October 22, 2018 November 1, 2018
Newfest - The New York Gay & Lesbian Film Festival New York NY October 24, 2018 October 30, 2018
Philadelphia Film Festival Philadelphia PA October 27, 2018 October 28, 2018
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Notre Dame IN October 27, 2018 October 27, 2018
Windsor International Film Festival Windsor ON October 29, 2018 October 29, 2018
Denver Film Festival Denver CO October 31, 2018 November 11, 2018
Virginia Film Festival Charlottesville VA November 1, 2018 November 4, 2018
St. Louis International Film Festival St. Louis MO November 1, 2018 November 11, 2018
Citizen Jane Film Festival Columbia MO November 1, 2018 November 4, 2018
Scottsdale Int'l Film Festival Scottsdale AZ November 2, 2018 November 11, 2018
Loft Tucson AZ November 8, 2018 November 15, 2018
AFI Fest Los Angeles CA November 8, 2018 November 15, 2018
South Western International Film Festival Toronto ON November 8, 2018 November 11, 2018
Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Fest Ottawa ON November 9, 2018 November 12, 2018
Film Society of Lincoln Center New York NY November 9, 2018 November 11, 2018
Regent Park Film Festival Toronto ON November 14, 2018 November 17, 2018
North Bay Film Festival North Bay ON November 16, 2018 November 18, 2018
Palm Springs International Film Festival Palm Springs CA January 3, 2019 January 14, 2019
Wexner Center for the Arts Columbus OH January 31, 2019 February 2, 2019
The Roxy Theater Missoula MT February 28, 2019 February 28, 2019
Indiana University Cinema Bloomington IN March 7, 2019 March 8, 2019
Cornell Cinema Ithaca NY April 12, 2019 April 12, 2019
SIFF Cinema Uptown Seattle WA April 26, 2019 May 2, 2019
SIE FilmCenter Denver CO May 3, 2019 May 17, 2019
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