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Africa Utopia Opening Keynote: Wanuri Kahiu

Part of Africa Utopia

This year’s Africa Utopia opening keynote will be delivered by Kenyan filmmaker, writer and co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, Wanuri Kahiu.

Kahiu's speech looks at how the arts and activism are are leading the way leading the way to social change across Africa and working towards bringing a Pan-African dream closer to reality. Kahiu is in conversation with Gaylene Gould, Head of Cinemas & Events at the British Film Institute.

To date, Kahiu has written and directed six films. Rafiki, her second feature film, became the first Kenyan film to feature at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. It is a love story set in Nairobi between two young women whose relationship challenges both their families and society.

Born in Nairobi, Kahiu is part of the new generation of African storytellers. Her films have received international acclaim and been screened in numerous film festivals around the world.

Kahiu is the co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, a media company that supports, creates and commissions fun, fierce and frivolous African art.

In 2008, Kahiu completed From A Whisper, a feature film based on the real-life events surrounding the twin bombings of US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. In 2009, she completed a documentary on Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, For Our Land.

Her short sci-fi film Pumzi, partially funded by Focus Features, Goethe Institut and Changa Moto Fund in Kenya, screened at Sundance in 2010. The film won best short at Cannes Independent Film Festival and took silver at Carthage Film Festival.

Kahiu was named a TED Fellow in 2017 and World Economic Forum cultural leader in 2018. Kahiu has published a children’s book, The Wooden Camel, she is currently in post-production on documentary Ger: To Be Separate and in pre-production on Rusties, a near-future sci-fi film set in Nairobi.

Gaylene Gould is Head of Cinemas & Events at the British Film Institute. Previously she worked as a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs Film Festival and creatively directed a number of large-scale exhibition projects for the BFI, FILMCLUB, the Museum Service and Arts Council England.

Gould founded independent projects company and consultancy WriteTalkListen, designing multimedia projects for the Tate, Vivid Projects, Moderna Museet Malmö and Selfridges. She has also worked with cultural venues and companies such as the National Theatre, Young Vic Theatre and Southbank Centre. She is an accredited coach, published writer, and broadcaster for BBC Radio.

This talk is presented in association with Africa Nouveau, with support from the British Council’s East Africa Arts programme.

Dates & times

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Purcell Room


Included in Pass
£18, £30