After almost two decades, this year could be the final outing for South Africa’s groundbreaking Out In Africa gay and lesbian film festival following funding cuts.
The news was announced by Festival Director Nodi Murphy in Johannesburg on Friday at the launch of the 2012 edition of the festival in Hyde Park.
The first of three mini-festival this year is currently underway in Johannesburg and Cape Town and comes to an end this weekend. An additional two events are planned later this year from 27 July to 5 August and from 17 to 28 October.
Murphy, however, revealed that these were likely to be last-ever OIA festivals.
“Out In Africa is over. This is our last year,” she told shocked audience members who had gathered for a screening of the Oscar-nominated film Albert Nobbs.
“We simply don’t have the funds to continue and no-one is interested in the queers”.
She explained that one of the festival’s primary funders, American Philanthropies, had ended its cycle of funding for LGBT organisations in South Africa leaving the festival with a lack of funding to continue into the next year.
Murphy urgently appealed for members of the lesbian and gay community to support the festival to ensure that it can survive.
“We are meant to be a beacon of light and hope in Africa. And we only need 4,166 people to donate R240 a year to keep going. That’s the cost of about 10 bad cappuccinos,” she quipped. “Surely there are at least 4,166 queers in this country?”
Speaking to Mambaonline, Murphy said that the LGBT community needs to take ownership of the event
“We are a rich country and rich community and just expecting everyone else to support us doesn’t seem right. But, I can’t tell people how to spend their money and if they don’t care about the film festival then I suppose that it has lived its life.”
Out in Africa was launched 19 years ago and remains the only ongoing annual gay and lesbian film festival in Africa. It is held in mainstream cinemas and is one of the few social spaces for LGBT people that is not fuelled by alcohol and sex.
In addition to the hundreds of films it has screened over the years, the festival has also mentored local LGBT filmmakers and assisted in the production of a number of short films.
To help save the cultural and social life of our community by contributing to Out in Africa, go to the website here. Donations are tax deductible.