It's a step in right direction: Actress on SA's first gay romcom, 'No Hiding There'

21 February 2021 - 00:00
Actress Nicole Bessick with director Gabe Gabriel.
Actress Nicole Bessick with director Gabe Gabriel.
Image: Supplied

When he was approached to make a romantic comedy for Showmax, filmmaker Gabe Gabriel knew he had to highlight regular day-to-day queer life instead of the trauma commonly portrayed in films about the gay community.

No Hiding There, billed as SA's first gay romantic comedy, premiered last week. It was made to "normalise the lived experience of people who are queer beyond the closet".

Producer Zandré Coetzer approached Gabriel to write about "queer joy rather than queer trauma". The movie is set in a small South African town, where a drama teacher accidentally plays gay porn at the biggest school event of the year.

This forces him, and the event's guest and featured artist - a big-city celebrity and closet homosexual - into hiding from the outraged community. The two are propelled out of their "normal lives" into an unpredictable weekend at the teacher's house, hiding from their problems.

"I think paradigm shifts in culture and society happen largely in tandem with shifts in media and representation," Gabriel said.

"So while No Hiding There isn't a story about a group of queer activists who tackle South African institutions and structures that continue to harm LGBTQIA+ people, I believe the more we make positive films like this super gay romcom, the more freedoms will be afforded to the queer community.

"I got together with two other queer writers, Kelly-Eve Koopman and Nico Scheepers. We brainstormed ideas that would keep our story small and contained but still feel to some degree universal and magical."

Actress, television presenter and boxing fanatic Nicole Bessick, who featured in the Netflix hit Black Mirror and soapie Binnelanders, scored a role in the movie as Jamie-Lee, an aspiring radio DJ.

She said: "I loved every second. This movie is a step in the right direction … This film was made 'by the gays, with the gays, for the gays' - as our director puts it."

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