‘Important for films on LGBTQ to exist’: Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu

In an exclusive interaction with TNIE, Kahiu said everyone should understand that humanity is equal and everybody deserves love, compassion and respect.
Kenyan film director, producer and author Wanuri Kahiu
Kenyan film director, producer and author Wanuri Kahiu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:   It is incredibly important for films talking about the LGBTQ community to exist. India decriminalised same-sex relationships recently. That means a lot of things need to change with time,” Kenyan film director, producer and author Wanuri Kahiu said on Sunday.

In an exclusive interaction with TNIE, Kahiu said everyone should understand that humanity is equal and everybody deserves love, compassion and respect. “Without these films, we won’t have the language to start,” said Kahiu on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

Speaking about her film Rafiki, a lesbian romance that was banned in her country and is being screened at the IFFK, Kahiu said, “The movie does not need a banner as an LGBTQ film as it is about different people from different parts of the world. Theirs will be the true single voice of humanity, one that is more embracing and comprehensive of different human identities.”

She highlighted the importance of reclaiming spaces for filmmakers in Kenya by emphasising the need for freedom of speech and expression, especially after the long shadows of colonialism. She opined that films are termed political as people have been born into particular bodies, races, and social classes. “Because after all, movies of white people are not political. If you are white, they wouldn’t be political, so it’s not so much about making political statements as it is making reflections of life. Right now, the struggle we should be more concerned about is that of occupied Palestine, the struggle of people who have been oppressed, and the struggle of the downtrodden. The struggle we should all be involved in is the politics of people at war who are trying to figure out a way to live in peace. That’s the real politics,” Kahiu said.

Kahiu highlighted the importance of film festivals, noting their role in showcasing diverse voices and perspectives. “The festivals are also really important for a filmmaker’s growth as we better understand the language of cinema, how to tell stories and how to interact with the filmmaking community and the audience,” she said.

She also talked about her love for Indian movies, particularly mentioning S S Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’. “The story touched me, though the style was different from mine,” she said. Sharing her excitement of the unexpected honour of getting the Spirit of Cinema Award, Kahiu said it was the best thing to happen to her in a long time. 

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