The annual Out in Africa (OIA) gay and lesbian film festival opened in Johannesburg on Thursday night at the Nu Metro Killarney Mall, celebrating its 15th birthday.

Invited guests attended a screening of the short South African documentary Beyond Hate Crimes followed by the feature length comedy Out at the Wedding.

Speaking at the start of the event, Festival Director and creator of OIA, Nodi Murphy thanked her colleagues and the lesbian and gay community for its continued support for the film festival over the years. “I am pathetically grateful that you are all here,” she said with a smile.

On a more serious note Murphy warned against becoming complacent about the rights enjoyed by the community. “We don’t only have rights, but we also have duties,” she said, urging audience members to be active and to “complain loudly.”

Murphy also announced that one of the films scheduled to show at the festival, XXY, had been banned from being screened by the Film Publications Board on the basis of apparent paedophilic content.

She said that she had lodged an urgent appeal with the board, noting that XXY had been screened around the world and had won numerous prestigious film festival awards.

The film screenings were followed by a cocktail function at the cinema.

The 15th Out in Africa festival runs in Johannesburg at Nu Metro Killarney Mall until 14 September and at Cape Town’s Nu Metro V&A Waterfront from Thursday 11 to Sunday 21 September. Visit www.oia.co.za for more information.

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