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Kenyan lesbian film Rafiki wins big at international film festivals

Kenyan lesbian film Rafiki wins big at international film festivals

two women face each other smiling, one is wearing yellow framed glasses, the other has long pink and blue dreadlocks

The success of the Kenyan film Rafiki has continued after it won three major awards at two international film festivals.

Rafiki is a film about two women who fall in love. It made international headlines when it became the first Kenyan film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival.

But when authorities banned its screening in Kenya, the filmmakers went to court to have the ban overturned. A court ruled in their favor and ruled Rafiki should be allowed to screen for seven days. This would allow it to be eligible to seek nomination for an Academy Award. In the week that Rafiki screened in Kenya it quickly became one of the highest grossing local films in history.

Continuing on with its history making journey, Rafiki just scooped major awards at TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival. Rafiki also won the  Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The film won both the audience and jury award for best narrative feature at TWIST.

‘It is gratifying to honor films that moved, inspired and entertained our jury members and audiences and that tell the vital stories of our diverse queer lives,’ said Kathleen Mullen, TWIST Festival Director.

Ben McCarthy, executive director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema, where TWIST screened celebrated Rafiki’s win.

‘Congratulations to the winners and to all of the filmmakers who contributed to the success of this year’s film festival,’ McCarthy said.

‘We are thrilled that RAFIKI won both the audience and jury awards for narrative feature and that we can bring further attention to this important, beautiful film from a country whose LGBTQ community faces rampant discrimination and fear of imprisonment.’