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SA's 'Moffie' flies the flag high in the US

12 April 2021 - 06:44 By unathi nkanjeni
A scene from 'Moffie', directed by Oliver Hermanus.
SOLDIERING ON A scene from 'Moffie', directed by Oliver Hermanus.
Image: Jamie D Ramsay

SA director Oliver Hermanus continues to fly the flag high with his 2019 movie, Moffie.

The movie made waves in the US after it was recently released in selected theatres, on digital and video on demand (VOD) platforms via IFC Films.

Moffie explores the life of a closeted young boy serving his mandatory military service during apartheid in 1980s.

The BAFTA nomination film is an adaptation of André-Carl van der Merwe’s memoir, which exposes the psychological violence of institutionalised homophobia

“Moffie” is an Afrikaans derogatory term for homosexuals.

The originally premiered as part of the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section in 2019 and later played at the London Film Festival, going on to receive three nominations at the British Independent Film Awards.

According to Variety, the film established Hermanus as “arguably Africa’s foremost queer filmmaker”. 

At the weekend, film industry and review website, IndieWire, said the film was “one of the best films about gay repression ever”. 

Movie critics also gave the film positive reviews on the International Movie Data Base (IMDb) and Rotten Tomatoes.

Speaking to the New York Times about the film and the lack of black figures in it, Hermanus said it was a reflection of the crumbling of apartheid.

“I wanted the film to be from the perspective of white SA and that was its reality,” said Hermanus.

“I see it as a portrait of the factory, how men were being made in the service of an ideology. That relates to their treatment of women, their treatment of other races, how they potentially become the men we identify as problematic today.”

He said he didn’t want to make “another gay-centric relationship” drama set in the army.

“I was more interested in the hurt and indoctrination than the protagonist’s catharsis,” Hermanus said. “I wanted it to be a serious portrait of this generation.”