“Films should promote our cultural values including preserving the institution of family,” says KFCB
A year after a successful premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, the LGBTQ movie set in Kenya I am Samuel has been banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board.
In a press conference held this morning, the acting CEO of KFCB Chris Wambua said that the film was banned on the basis that its deliberate advocacy for and the normalization of same-sex marriages contravenes Article 165 of the Penal Code.
“I am Samuel propagates values that are in dissonance with our constitution, culture, values and norms and is as such unacceptable. Any attempt to exhibit, distribute, broadcast or possess the restricted film within the Republic of Kenya shall be met with the full force of the law,” said Chris Wambua.
The film which was a Human Rights Watch Film Festival selection tells the story of a young gay couple, Samuel and Alex, trying to live and thrive in a country where homosexuality is outlawed. The film is directed by Pete Murimi and produced by Toni Kamau.
Additionally, KFCB also cited foreign investment as a reason why such films were being produced in Kenya. “The Board is aware of efforts by some producers to promote gay-themed content that propagates same-sex marriage contrary to our beliefs and norms. While the Board welcomes local and foreign support to our budding local film industry, such funding should focus on the production of content that is aligned with the laws of our country.” The statement released by the board states.
I am Samuel is not the first LGBTQ film shot in Kenya to premiere at an International Film Festival and subsequently restricted. Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and was later banned in Kenya. The ban was temporarily lifted by Judge Wilfrida Okwanny at the Milimani Law Courts who argued that “gay themes and the practice of homosexuality did not begin with Rafiki.”
I am Samuel debuted at the 64th BFI London Film Festival in October of 2020.