Rafiki

Directed by Wanuri Kahiu
Film Movement
2018
83 Minutes
Kenya
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

Trailer

Photos

Reviews

  • "[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
  • "***** (5 stars) Gorgeously shot and with a luminous colour palette, Kahiu has crafted a visually arresting and sensual film, but one laced with innocence."
    Lewis Knight, Mirror (UK)
  • "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
  • "It’s undoubtedly a shame that the film’s home country wasn't initially willing to acknowledge the beauty of Rafiki’s depictions of lesbian love and countless other real-life same-sex relationships. Kahiu’s film reinforces that being who you are and loving in spite of the opinions of others is still a revolutionary act. So cheers to the Kenyan viewers, who now have the opportunity to see Rafiki for what it is — colorful, warm and real. Rating: 5/5"
    Joi Childs, Shadow and Act
  • "The story's simplicity and directness are a big part of its charm."
    Nicholas Barber, BBC.com
  • "...a dizzyingly beautiful love story of two young women coming of age in a place that’s hostile to what brings out the best in them."
    Andrea Thompson, Cultured Vultures
  • "While Western countries are still struggling to produce many queer stories that don’t end in misery and death, or that focus solely on the white male experience, the Kenyan-focused, neon-pink romance of Rafiki is exactly what the world needs."
    Katy Moon, One Room with a View
  • "Rafiki is a stunning lesbian love story - in a place where that's forbidden."
    Cate Young, Nylon

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
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