Oliver Hermanus (centre) after receiving the Queer Palm.

Skoonheid, the first Afrikaans film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, has won the Queer Palm award over the weekend.

Directed by South African Oliver Hermanus, the film was also selected for the prestigious Un Certain Regard section of the festival. Skoonheid (Beauty) is Hermanus’ second film; his first was 2009’s Shirley Adams.

Although Skoonheid has received mixed reviews from the media at Cannes, the Queer Palm jurists said that they were “deeply impressed” by the film.

It tells the story of François (Deon Lotz), a straight middle-aged family man, who find himself increasingly obsessed with a friend’s beautiful 22-year-old son, Christian (Charlie Keegan).

“It’s a film about self-hatred and a film about homophobia, as well as a film dealing with racism, in a very subtle way. It is a true cinema film, a quite unpleasant one at first sight, and very disturbing, hard-hitting, radical,” said Elisabeth Quin, President of the Queer Palm jury.

“When we made this film we were definitely challenging some radical issues in South Africa,” said Hermanus while accepting the award in Cannes.

“We want to show it in South Africa but we know it will be a challenging film for the audience because it deals with someone who refuses to accept his sexuality which is, I think, happening in all countries in the world, people refuse to accept who they are.”

He added: “It’s really amazing to have an award like this which celebrates who we are.”

Launched in 2010, the Queer Palm is an unofficial award at the festival, celebrating LGBT films.

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