The Out In Africa (OIA) gay and lesbian film festival – the country’s most popular film festival – is well into its teens. And appropriately, now in its thirteenth year, there are some big changes afoot.

Perhaps the most dramatic is the festival’s move from its traditional theatrical partner -Ster Kinekor – to the competition; Nu Metro. It’s no doubt a traumatic transition – much like a child leaving one of its parents – but Festival Director Nodi Murphy, is taking it in her stride.

She’s cagey about what ended the relationship between OIA and the cinema giant; although rumours suggest that after the death of Cinema Nouveau’s Nico van der Merwe – who was the festival’s champion at Ster Kinekor for many years – the company’s corporate bureaucracy may have taken its toll.

Murphy believes that the move will ultimately benefit the festival thanks to Nu Metro’s hunger to host OIA. Plus, she adds, “We’ll have an increase in seating capacity – a 44% increase in Joburg and a 65% increase in Cape Town.”

The festival will also be changing its usual dates in the annual calendar – next year moving from March to November. To smooth the transition, OIA will split into two events this year – one taking place in March and another smaller event in November. The organisers made the decision so as not to clash with the Sithengi World Film Festival, which used to take place in November but is now moving to March as from 2008.

Confused yet? Let’s hope that all these changes don’t damage the future of one our most valuable cultural events.

The movies

The March Festival will showcase 24 feature films, screening movies at Nu Metro Hyde Park in Johannesburg from Thursday 1 March to Sunday 18 March and Nu Metro V&A Waterfront in Cape Town from Thursday 15 March to Sunday 1 April.

The films on offer (this year’s crop is of a particularly high standard) include: the remarkable Beautiful Boxer (Thailand) – about a transsexual kick-boxer; the fun romantic gay comedy Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds (USA); Boy Culture (USA) which is based on the novel about a rent boy’s search for love; and the explicit German expose on the LA porn scene Cycles of Porn: Sex/life in LA Part 2.

There’s also the classic documentary feature film on New York’s drag culture in the late 80’s – Paris is Burning; and South Africa’s own Black Beaulahs which chronicles the life of three gay men in Soweto.

Fans of the popular and groundbreaking Noah’s Arc will be pleased to have an opportunity to watch season two of this US TV series. (It’s a crime that our broadcasters have not yet screened this.)

The girls will have a handful of films to look forward to: The Gymnast (USA) – about a former Olympic Gymnast; the acclaimed documentary Left Lane (USA), featuring the talents of spoken word poet Alix Olson; the award-winning Unveiled, which tells the tale of an Iranian refugee who falls for a fellow female co-worker; and the first season of the TV series, Sugar Rush (UK).

Tickets for film screening are R40 and are on sale either at the relevant cinema box office or via Computicket. Opening nights in Johannesburg and Cape Town are by invitation only.

Concessions for Edgars’ members apply and Exclusive Books Fanatics earn points. Tuesday half-price ticket prices do not however apply to the festival.

For more details on all the films being screened at the festival visit the OIA website at www.oia.co.za.


As has become tradition, the festival will feature a number of international guests:

There is spoken word artist Alix Olson (USA); Samantha Farinella (USA), director of Left Lane; the gorgeous actor Darryl Stephens from the USA (Noah’s Arc and Boy Culture); Q Allan Brocka (USA) who directed Boy Culture and co-wrote Eating Out 2; and Jennie Livingston, who directed Paris is Burning and Who’s the Top.

South African Fanney Tsimong – director of Black Beaulahs – rounds off the guest-list.

Jennie Livingston will be part of a panel who will lead a discussion about the relationship between sexual identity and transgenderism titled What’s Love got to do with it? after screenings of Paris is Burning in Joburg (Saturday 10 March) and Cape Town (Saturday 17 March).

The Festival discount card

An innovation this year – perhaps to partially compensate for all the moffies who got discounts at Ster Kinekor via their Discovery membership – Out In Africa and Nu Metro Theatres are offering discounts for people who attend the festival regularly.

The R800 Festival Card, which is available at Nu Metro Hyde Park and V&A Waterfront, gets you a 30% discount – 26 tickets for the price of 20, while a R400 Festival Card gets you a 20% discount – 12 tickets for the price of 10. There is a limit of two tickets per film and the cards are only valid for the duration of the March 2007 festival.

The SABC talks gay television

A panel of commissioning editors and executives from the SABC will be discussing the channel’s purported “commitment to broadcasting engaging and groundbreaking / edgy content…” and “total citizen empowerment” (to quote a statement by the corporation). For those of you out there who feel that the SABC is doing a shabby job in providing a television platform for LGBTI voices in the country, this is your chance to voice your opinion.

The discussion will take place after a screening of an episode of the new series After Nine (which premieres on SABC1 in April) on Monday 12 March at 6.30pm (Joburg) and Thursday 22 March at 6.30pm (Cape Town). Tickets for these two events are free and are available from the box office.

In conclusion…

The importance of the Out In Africa Film festival is concisely summed up by Jack Lewis, an OIA Board member, who writes that, “The Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival remains a signal event which each year provides the opportunity to reaffirm the right to equality and non-discrimination of gays and lesbians in South Africa. Without this Festival, we would be just that bit more reliant on others to speak for us, rather than speaking for ourselves.”

“Buy that ticket,” he adds, “Your support for the Festival and all it stands for remains a crucial affirmation of our right to a place in the South African sun.”

We couldn’t say it better ourselves…

The Out in Africa March Film Festival takes place at Nu Metro Hyde Park in Johannesburg from Thursday 1 March to Sunday 18 March and Nu Metro V&A Waterfront in Cape Town from Thursday 15 March to Sunday 1 April.

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