Keith Bain is a freelance travel writer and author of Hg2 Cape Town, along with Pippa de Bruyn. Here he guest-blogs about what he calls ‘Africa’s most fabulous cinema orgy’; the continent’s only notable gay and lesbian film festival.
October sees the start of Africa’s first and only notable gay and lesbian film festival, now in its 17th year and happening in both Jo’burg and Cape Town. With cheeky visual marketing echoing B-grade schlock cinema advertising from the 1950s, the festival is one of South Africa’s premiere cultural events with a specifically gay, er, bent. Much of the content has universal appeal, though, and even the most straight-laced will find something sexy, provocative, or life-altering on the bill. The line up includes world premieres—with eight never-before-seen films from South Africa—and award-winning cinema from top festivals around the globe. There’s some lowbrow stuff, too, for those who like to watch rather than think.
Titles like House of Boys and Counsel of Sodom might raise eyebrows or get you all sweaty, but they’re both serious and sophisticated period films, albeit revisiting the Twentieth Century. In Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar, Lou Reed’s immortal lyrics (“Candy came from out on the Island / In the backroom she was everybody’s darlin’ / But she never lost her head / Even when she was giving head / She says, Hey babe / Take a walk on the wild side”) get a refreshing spin in a movie that revives the arty decadence of the Factory and New York back in the 60s and 70s.
For hedonists with short attention spans, there are quite a few short films, including the world premiere of A Kind of Language, depicting a side of Cape Town that’s seldom seen by travellers. The film looks at the underbelly of the city, far beneath the glossy surface of its cosmopolitan wealth and behind its culture of conspicuous consumption. It follows a group of underdogs into the often-seedy Cape Town underworld where life is frequently a knife-edge struggle.
As with all major film festivals, there’ll be directors and actors in attendance, cocktail parties, workshops, and even serious discussions around filmmaking and sexuality. In Cape Town – widely touted as Africa’s gay capital—there’s a Halloween costume party at Lazari’s in Green Point’s Cape Quarter (www.capequarter.co.za), as well as a snazzy closing soiree at The Grand Café and Beach (www.thegrand.co.za), one of the city’s sexiest venues, right on the edge of Table Bay.
Out In Africa (www.oia.co.za) happens in Jozi from 14 to 21 October at Hyde Park Nu Metro and downtown at The Bioscope (www.thebioscope.co.za); the festival then moves to Cape Town for two weeks, running from 21 October to 7 November at the V&A Nu Metro (at the Waterfront; www.numetro.co.za), and in the heart of the city at the Foxy On Broadway (www.onbroadway.co.za), 44 Long Street.