The Latest in a Winning Line of Gay Themed Films
Queer cinema has steadily grown to become one of the leading forces in film internationally over the last five years. And South Africa is no different. Etienne Kallos’s film Die Stropers, which won critical acclaim at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, opens nationwide on 15 March and is the latest in a series of award-winning films about gayness.
The South African-French-Greek-Polish co-production, by first-time Greek-South African director Kallos, is an intense psychological drama exploring the coming-of-age of a new generation of Afrikaans youth. Set against a severe and dusty landscape, it tells the story of obedient Afrikaans teenager, Janno, played by Brent Vermeulen, whose deeply religious mother, Marie, brings home a troubled street orphan and drug addict, Pieter, portrayed by Alex van Dyk, to foster on the family’s remote cattle farm in the Free State.
It explores the thorny issue of identity and sexuality in a provocative and darkly moving way. As Pieter goes through withdrawal, Janno takes him under his wing, introducing him to the farm, the local prayer group and the church boys’ rugby club. But Pieter is far worldlier than Janno, and instantly spots the fact that Janno has a crush on his best friend. Pieter also introduces Janno to the lively nearby black community, and reveals that he has been selling his body to local men for cash. Janno finds this shocking, but he’s also envious.
In South Africa, Skoonheid, directed by Oliver Hermanus, was the first Afrikaans film to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival, and won the Queer Palm in 2011.
Inxeba (The Wound) won 19 awards of excellence at festivals around the globe, including the BFI, the African American Film Critics Association, and the International Queer & Migrant Film Festival in Amsterdam. At home, the film walked away with 8 SAFTAs.
In 2018 Kanarie, the tale of a queer teenage man who gets called up for military service, sparked international interest and raked in several international accolades before even hitting the big screen in South Africa. It won the Silwerskerm Film Festival award for Best Feature Film, among other awards, as well as Best LGBTQ film at the Cape Town International Film Festival. It went on to win awards in Chicago and Atlanta in the US. Kanarie was also part of the Official Selection at the 2018 OutFest in Los Angeles, as well as the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival.
Die Stropers had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation from the audience. The film has already won a number of international awards including:
- Sundance/Mahindra ‘Global Filmmaker Award’
- Gan Foundation, ‘Prix Opening Shot Award’
- Rome International Film Festival ‘Alice Nella Citta Jury Award for Best First Feature’
- Cheries-Cheris Film Festival, ‘Grand Prix’ Award
- African Film Festival of Khouribga, ‘Best Director’ Award
Die Stropers is a Spier Films production. The film’s investors include the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission, Agence Film France, the Greek Film Institute, the Polish Film Institute, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and produced by Spier Films. The film’s producers are Sophie Erbs, Cinema de Facto (France) and Thembisa Cochrane, Spier Films (South Africa). The executive producers are Dr Lwazi Manzi and Michael Auret, Spier Films.
Die Stropers is distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution.