Wanuri Kahiu; 2018; Kenya; 83 min; in English and Swahili with English subtitles; Northwest Premiere
On a sunny afternoon in Nairobi, Kena is hanging out with her friends in a local café when she spots Ziki—and is instantly smitten with her vibrant, free-spirited energy. Turns out, though, that Ziki’s father is running against her own father in a local political campaign. Despite their families’ rivalry, the two young women start to meet up and get closer. Keeping their attraction secret, they spend time discussing their dreams and ambitions, soon finding intimacy in a little camper away from prying eyes in the gossipy neighborhood.
As their relationship develops, family pressure and danger lurk for the two lovers. In a place that does not want to admit that queerness exists and love is love, Kena and Ziki are destined to be wives and mothers. Both must choose how to survive in this coming-of-age story where the stakes are high.
This remarkable achievement by director Wanuri Kahiu—the first LGBTQ Kenyan film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival (in the prestigious Un Certain Regard section)—received a 10-minute standing ovation but has been banned in Kenya for its “clear intent to promote lesbianism.”
Closing our festival with a moving, sexy, and unapologetically queer film about fighting for love is a reminder that our work continues. Through Kena and Ziki’s strength, we find the hope we need so much today.
Graphic Violence; Non Explicit Sexual Situations; Vulgar Language