In the wake of Inxeba, South African queer filmmaking is on a high with the upcoming debut of Kanarie, a gay coming-of-age musical drama set in apartheid South Africa.
The film’s first trailer has just been released and it’s sparking interest and excitement around the world.
Kanarie (Afrikaans for Canary) tells the story of an 18-year-old man, Johan Niemand, who gets called up for military service in 1985. He auditions and is accepted to the South African Defence Force Choir, called the ‘Canaries’.
Against a landscape in which law and religion oppress individuality, Johan and the Canaries have to survive military training and go on a nationwide tour of the country. They travel from town to town, entertaining people whilst also fortifying the belief in the military effort and promoting the cause of both Church and State.
When Johan discovers that he has growing feelings for a fellow choir member, he begins to question everything about himself and his world; his religion, patriotism, sexuality and the realities and truth of Apartheid South Africa.
Comedian and actor Schalk Bezuidenhout has undergone a striking transformation from his usual quirky persona for the lead role of Johan. Kanarie also stars Hannes Otto and Germandt Geldenhuys.
The film features a host of cameo roles played by some big names in the South African TV and film industry. These include Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Dawid Minnaar, Tinarie van Wyk-Loots, Johan and Lida Botha, Albert Maritz, Martelize Kolver and many more.
The film is produced by Cape Town based Marche Media and directed by Christiaan Olwagen (Johnny is nie dood nie).
Kanarie could be the next big South African LGBTQ film. In addition to the global success of the controversial Inxeba, South African producers are also behind the Kenyan lesbian love story Rafiki, which recently debuted in Cannes after being banned in Kenya.
Kanarie is set to premiere at the INside OUT Toronto LGBT Film Festival in Canada on Tuesday, 29 May and will then make its way through the film festival circuit.
According to Marche Media associate producer Jaco Nothnagel, the film is expected to be released in local cinemas later this year, possibly in October. Watch the trailer below.