Wanuri Kahiu, the director of “Rafiki”, a film that was banned in Kenya because it centered on a love story between two women, is now suing the Kenyan government so she can submit it as an Oscar nominee, BuzzFeed reports.
Ms Kahiu filed the lawsuit on Monday against the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and the Attorney General.
In order to be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a movie must have been shown in the country submitting it, but “Rafiki” — which tells the story of two young women from different political backgrounds who fall in love — was denied a general release by KFCB.
The deadline for Oscar nomination submissions is September 30.
Ms Kahiu’s complaint argues that in preventing the distribution of “Rafiki”, the classification board violated several articles of the Constitution that protect free speech and freedom of creative expression.
Same-sex intercourse is prohibited in Kenya; and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
“Rafiki” made history in April as the first Kenyan film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival and has since screened in Accra, Ghana; Durban, South Africa; and most recently to a sold-out crowd at the Toronto International Film Festival.
But the classification board, headed by CEO Dr Ezekiel Mutua, found that there was “a clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya” in the film, which, it said, goes against the law.
Speaking at the Toronto festival on Sunday, Ms Kahiu, 38, said that she doesn’t consider herself an activist and prefers to focus on telling stories.
“But when somebody starts to infringe on your rights to be creative and exercise your work, that becomes a problem,” said Ms Kahiu.
“That’s when we decided to push back and take the classification board to court,” she added.