Africa

Kenya arrests over banned Wolf of Wall Street film

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street Image copyright PAramount
Image caption The film's depiction of sex and drug-taking upset censors in Kenya

Dozens of pirate DVD traders have been arrested in Kenya for selling banned copies of The Wolf of Wall Street, Kenya's film censors told the BBC.

Kenya Film Classification Board banned the Oscar-nominated film in January for its "extreme scenes of nudity, sex, debauchery, hedonism and cursing".

But many Kenyans have already watched it on pirated copies sold in small DVD shops for about $0.57 (£0.35).

Those arrested could face a fine of up to $1,160 or several years in jail.

The new Martin Scorsese film is about the stockbroker Jordan Belfort and his real-life rise and fall in the financial world of 1980s-90s New York.

Crackdown

Eva Mbuni, corporate communications officer at the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), told the BBC that at least 30 traders had been arrested in less than a month as part of an ongoing crackdown on the distribution of restricted and unclassified films.

"We are doing this for the sake of our children and our women," Ms Mbuni said.

"What we are seeing is more and more films being produced portraying our women and children badly.

"Are we [only] showing them for sexual gratification?"

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The pirate DVD market is thriving in Kenya

BBC Africa's Emmanuel Igunza says the back street sale of pirated DVDs is a thriving and lucrative business in major cities across Kenya.

Most of the traders due to be arraigned in court are from the capital, Nairobi, and Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret. They could be fined or be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison.

Appeal

Film distributors and major cinema halls in Kenya have appealed against the decision to ban the Wolf of Wall Street, which has been nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. Its lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio is up for the best actor award.

"The movie could have been allowed, if the distributors had edited out some of the parts we were uncomfortable with," said Ms Mbuni.

"But they refused our advisory to them and we had no choice."

KFCB is a government body charged with classifying films for public viewing and has powers to regulate the distribution of those it deems unfit.

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