It became the second highest grossing Kenyan film of all time even though it only had a seven day, court-authorised, theatrical run in three Kenyan cities. The film is once again banned in Kenya. The filmmakers are in the process of further court action to have the film permanently unbanned.
Over 6 500 people watched the film in Kenya on the big screen over the seven day period which also saw hundreds of cinemagoers being turned away from venues due to full houses. The film grossed more than $33 000 (R474 447) in the week.
Rafiki’s Kenyan distributor, Trushna Patel from Crimson Media said "Over a 7 day release, Rafiki has experienced a rush at Prestige Cinema only felt before at the Black Panther release earlier this year. Even though there was limited screen time allotted at the last minute after the court ruling, the film was performing to full house capacity at all shows running, a welcome scene for a Kenyan film."
Rafiki made history earlier this year as the first Kenyan film selected for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and has gone onto screen at festivals around the world. It will be screened at festivals in more than 20 countries this month. It is currently in cinemas across France and Belgium to be followed by theatrical releases in USA, Japan, Switzerland, Holland, Scandinavia, South Africa and has been invited to screen in at least six other African countries.
“The success of the theatrical release proves that there is a strong commercial market for in Kenya. We intend to take this film to other African countries to continue to build the case that quality African films are commercially viable on our own continent. The film will be re-released in Kenya, when permanently unbanned’’ said Rafiki producer Steven Markovitz.
Meanwhile Wanuri Kahiu and the Creative Economy Working Group continue their court action for Freedom of Expression, as envisioned in the Kenyan constitution. Lawyer for Wanuri Kahiu, Sofia Leteipan said “The ongoing case provides an opportunity for the courts to give meaning, progressively interpret and to breathe life into the Constitutional guarantee of the right to freedom of expression, that includes artistic creativity.’’
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