Restriction orders against Stories Of Our Lives by Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB)


According to Evelyn Mbuni, corporate communications officer at the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), many musicians and filmmakers are ignorant of the law and are unaware that it expects them to submit their productions for classification.

The restriction orders against Stories Of Our Lives come a few months after the board restricted yet another controversial film, The Wolf of Wall Street, for what it termed  "extreme scenes of nudity, sex, debauchery, hedonism and cursing", a move that ironically made the film even more popular.

According to Andrew Owuor a filmmaker, restricting Stories of Our Lives will only create demand. That's exactly what happened with The Wolf of Wall Street earlier in the year.

A letter to the makers of Stories of Our Lives by acting KFCB CEO, Onesmus Mutua read: “After previewing the film, independent film examiners examined it and classified it as restricted meaning it cannot be exhibited, distributed or broadcast in Kenya.”

Unhappy with the restriction George Gachara the executive producer of the film told Pulse that they knew there was a high chance that the Board would restrict the film.

“When it happened we were saddened both by the implication of the restriction, and the predictability of the board’s decision,” he noted.

Although the producers agree that the film has obscene scenes - in one particular scene an angry young man hurls insults at his best friend for visiting a gay bar - they argue that this “depends on your definition of ‘explicit’".

“We made this film to open dialogue about identities, what it means to be Kenyan and what it means to be different. By placing a restriction on this film, the Board has chosen to delay this inevitable conversation,” he adds.

The film exposes the cruelty endured by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, based on true stories collected across the country.

However according to Mbuni, the makers have options.

“Should the makers of the restricted film feel aggrieved by the decision they have 14 days to appeal to the cabinet secretary as provided for in Section 26 of the Act,” he says.

Owuor states that it is within the board’s mandate to restrict movies that seem to portray low morals.

“However, I don’t understand why when local film makers produce horror films they are restricted but when they come from Hollywood they rated 18,” he says.

“Some of these films the board restricts might as well be rated 18 so that adults can choose whether to watch them or not,” he adds.

Some independent film analysts also observe that there is a disconnect between the mandate of the Board and the interests of Kenyans. To others, the assumption that Kenyan adults are not mature enough to watch films without needing the approval of a censor, surely requires reflection.