Making its world premiere screening in the Un Certain Regard section of the the 2018 Cannes Film Festival is Rafiki (Friend), from multi-award-winning Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu (Pumzi) – a feature film that’s inspired by the 2007 Caine Prize-winning short story titled Jambula Tree by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko and produced by super producer Steven Markovitz.
Rafiki (the first Kenyan feature to screen at Cannes) is a love story about two girls, Kena and Ziki, who live in a housing estate in Nairobi. The girls are unlikely friends, and their fathers are rival politicians. When they fall in love and the community finds out, the girls are forced to choose between love and safety as two girls on different paths and the difficult decisions each must make about the life they lead and the ramifications of their choices.
The project, a South African/Kenyan/French/Netherlanders/German co-production (Big World Cinema/Awali Entertainment/MPM Film/Rinkel Film/Razor Film Produktion), was first shopped at the Cannes Market in 2014, so it’s been a long journey, and it’s only fitting that it makes its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
It’s very rare that feature films by black women filmmakers have made their world premieres (or even just screened) at the most prestigious film festival in the world. In fact, I could probably count the number on one hand, so Kahiu is a member of a club with very few members at the moment; although I’m sure that will change in time.
A first trailer for Rafiki premiered recently and is embedded below: