Rafiki, which debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, received acclaim for making history as the first Kenyan film to be shown at the festival and for centering a romantic relationship between two Kenyan women. Despite the success, however, Rafiki was censored by the Kenyan government for “promoting lesbianism,” Buzzfeed News reports. Though homosexuality is not technically illegal in Kenya, same-sex intercourse is considered a felony and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Wanuri Kahiu, the film’s director, filed a lawsuit on September 10 against the Kenyan Film Classification Board (KFCB) and the country’s attorney general, citing that the “the classification board violated several articles of the constitution that protect free speech and freedom of creative expression.”
Rafiki must be shown in its home country to be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The submission deadline is September 30 and time is of the essence to overturn Kenya’s ban.