Following one of the city’s biggest-ever Pride parades this past July, and a seeming rejuvenation of its LGBTI community, Durban will be launching its very own gay and lesbian film festival in October.
The inaugural Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (DGLFF) will be held from Friday 28 October to 6 November at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts Gallery in Durban.
It will include a range of feature films and documentaries as well as a number of workshops for filmmakers and audience-members.
The festival was conceived and is being organised by journalist and LGBTI rights campaigner Jason Fiddler. According to Fiddler, it’s time that Durban, which is already the home of the globally acclaimed Durban International Film Festival (arguably the nation’s largest single city film event), has its own LGBTI film festival.
The festival is being birthed in the shadow of the Out In Africa (OIA) Film Festival, which has dominated the LGBTI film scene for 18 years. Does Fiddler believe that there is room for both?
“I absolutely recognise and applaud the efforts of OIA, especially in its outreach programmes in communities that are often neglected. But they do have limited resources and it’s been a number of years since they’ve been in Durban in a significant way,” he says.
“Also, internationally, most LGBTI film festivals are city-based and we aim to put on a festival that will have a local flavour and more closely meet the needs of the city’s pink community as well as LGBTI filmmakers.”
Fiddler notes that he consulted with LGBTI groups in the region to ensure that it has broad buy-in from the community before going forward with the project. He says that the response has been “overwhelmingly positive”.
Fiddler is particularly excited about making the DGLFF a platform for local, and especially Durban and KwaZulu-Natal-based, filmmakers.
“This year, there was very little notice so we weren’t able to take any submissions, but after our first outing, we would like to see the festival become the event for filmmakers to have their Pink African premiÃ¨res,” he explains.
Judas Kiss, a film that has earned praise from critics and attendees at North American LGBTI film festivals, will be screened on the opening night of the DGLFF, on Friday, 28 October.
Fiddler says that this will be its African premiÃ¨re and that it has not yet been released on DVD anywhere, ensuring that its screening will indeed be a first for local audiences. Fiddler is also negotiating to host the director, writer/producer and the main actors of the film in Durban for the duration of the film festival.
Judas Kiss is the story of a failed, thirty-something filmmaker who returns to his film school and is faced with the possibility of changing his past and future after a one-night stand with a mysterious student.
Other films confirmed for the festival include: Mulligans, a Canadian production about what happens when a father falls for his son’s gay best friend; 2 Frogs in the West, a French-Canadian coming of age story that will appeal to lesbian and gay viewers; and the documentary Beyond Gay: The Politics, which looks at the relevance of pride in our modern era.
So will the Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival draw a sufficient audience to ensure its viability as an annual event?
Fiddler is positive. “Durban is not a fishing village, it is a city of some three million people,” he points out. “Our community deserves and needs a voice and space to celebrate LGBTI films.”
For more information about the first-ever Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival visit www.dglff.org.za. Watch the trailer for Judas Kiss below.