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GAY FILMS AT DURBAN FILM FEST

Taking place from 21 to 31 July, the 32nd Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) will present a number of gay-themed films as part of its feature film selection.

 

From the powerful Man at Bath, which chronicles a week in the life of two soon-to-be ex-lovers, to Skoonheid, the latest award-winning film from South African prodigy Oliver Hermanus, DIFF 2011 offers a snapshot of life in the various gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender communities around the world.

Oliver Hermanus' astounding Skoonheid won the Queer Palm award at Cannes this year for best gay-themed film. This remarkably sensitive film tells of an older closeted man whose attraction to the son of a young friend threatens to shatter his carefully constructed identity. Hermanus, whose debut Shirley Adams was one of the highlights of DIFF 2009, will be in attendance at screenings of the film.

Man at Bath, is a graphic but ultimately moving look at two men's attempts to stop loving each other. Set in Paris and New York, the film chronicles the last week of a relationship, which its protagonists spend in the two different cities. The result is a powerful visual poem to the complexities and richness of urban gay life.

 

Oliver Hermanus' Skoonheid

Memories in March, from Indian director Sanjay Nag, is an account of the relationship that comes to exist between a mother and her dead son's gay lover, while Canadian director Xavier Dolan's second film Heartbeats is a beautifully executed account of a sexual triangle between three close friends.

 

Other film with gay themes include Tom Tywker's Three which chronicles another unusual sexual triangle, Greg Araki's ambisexual Kaboom, Circumstance which explores the forbidden relationship between two Iranian girls, and the Thai film The Terrorists which provides a powerful political message. Then there are the multiple narratives I Am and Dog Sweat, which explore contemporary sexuality in India and Iran respectively.

In addition to the LGBT-themed films, the Festival also features the World Premiere of the South African film Otelo Burning, directed by Sara Blecher. Set during the last days of apartheid, the Durban-shot film tells the story of a group of South African township youngsters who discover surfing as an empowering escape from the political violence of the times. There is drama, romance, rivalry, and tragedy in this convincing fulfilment of local filmmaking potential.

DIFF will also present the World Premieres of Charlie Vundla’s noir film How To Steal 2 Million, John Barker’s thrilling heist flick 31 Million Reasons, Faith Isiakpere’s crime drama The Algiers Murders, Eldorado by new talents Shaldon Ferris and Lorreal Ferris, the hilarious comedy Taka Takata by Damir Radonic, and The Dream by Zuko Nodada. Making their African Premieres are Mukunda Michael Dewil’s psychological thriller Retribution and Paula van der Oest’s moving film about Ingrid Jonker, Black Butterflies.

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