Why Kenya banned 'The Wolf of Wall street'

Monday January 20 2014

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio poses on the red carpet as he arrives to attend the UK premiere of film

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio poses on the red carpet as he arrives to attend the UK premiere of film "The Wolf of Wall Street" in central London on January 9, 2014. Directed by Martin Scorsese and based on a true story, the Wolf of Wall Street charts the rise and fall of a wealthy stockbroker played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo/AFP 

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If you were hoping to catch Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, an American biographical dark comedy, start counting your losses because the movie will never be screened in the country.

This follows a government directive through the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) that has banned the film due to its “extreme scenes of nudity, sex, alcohol, drug taking and profanity.”

In a signed statement by the acting Chief Executive Officer Onesmus Mutua, the restriction came after KFCB reviewed the movie and decided to classify it as restricted.

This means it cannot be screened on any cinema or even distributed by movie vendors and anyone who defies this law will be liable for persecution.

“Following this decision, the board notifies you that this should not be exhibited or distributed in the country,” reads the statement.

KFCB is the country’s film content regulator. Its role is to ensure that films and posters in the country are examined and classified before reaching the public. It also monitors broadcast content for family friendly programming.

According to KFCB’s Corporate Communications Officer Eva Mbuvi, anyone caught screening or distributing the film will be fined Sh100,000 or be jailed for five years or both.

Restricting the movie means ‘The Wolf of Wall Street” is banned in Kenya for the next five years and then another review will be done.


“There is a pool of examiners who reviewed the film and found it not fit for local consumption and that is why we decided to restrict the movie,” says Mbuvi.

“After the examiners watch the film and decide to restrict it, another pool watches it to confirm and if they agree, then we approach the cinemas and ask them if they can edit out the contentious bits. If they agree, we allow, if not, we restrict.”

If the cinemas feel like the board was harsh, they can appeal but Mbuvi says nobody appealed and that is why the movie was banned.

Asked why they did not just classify the movie for adults only, Mbuvi says the movie contains elements that would make many people uncomfortable be they liberal or conservatives.

“The movie is glorifying prostitution, drug abuse and other vices and that is what we are trying to protect the public from,” she said.

The movie is said to contain scenes of graphic sex, drug abuse and homosexuality and contains a staggering 569 “F-bombs” setting the record for the most uses of the word in a mainstream non-documentary film. As it is right now, Scorsese is said to have had to edit out more graphic sex scenes and nudity.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, a New York stockbroker who runs a firm that engages in securities fraud and corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s.

Belfort and his employees lead a lifestyle of total debauchery with lavish parties, sex and drugs both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

He begins cheating on his wife with several prostitutes, and becomes addicted to cocaine.

The Asian and Middle Eastern markets, according to Hollywood Reporter, are in the frontline in condemning the movie but it is doing well in the box office having raked in $63 million (Sh5.5 billion) and counting.