I Am Divine
This May sees a much-needed addition to the film festival scene in Johannesburg as the Bioscope Independent Cinema in partnership with the Goethe Institut, hosts a new LGBTIQ+ film festival.
It’s named the “not gay as in happy, QUEER as in fuck you FILM FESTIVAL”.
Curated by Dean Hutton and Darryl Els, the festival will screen a selection of the best features, documentaries and shorts from around the world, offering a diverse reflection on queer life in film.
Importantly, the programme will have a special focus on early and classic queer cinema. The films on offer include:
Stories of Our Lives: Thurs 28 May, 8pm / Mon 1 June, 7:30pm
Created by the members of a Nairobi-based arts collective, this anthology film that dramatises true-life stories from Kenya’s oppressed LGBTQ community is both a labour of love and a bold act of militancy. George Gachara, the Kenyan producer, was arrested and nearly prosecuted for making it.
Stud Life: Fri 29 May, 7pm
Stud Life is a light take on the darker side of queer street life in London. JJ a lesbian and Seb a gay man are best friends. Then JJ falls for Elle and has to split her attention between them both. Mates b4 muff? What would you do?
Out in the Night: Fri 29 May, 9pm
In a gay-friendly neighbourhood of New York City, four young African-American lesbians are violently and sexually threatened by a man. They defend themselves and are charged and convicted in the courts and in the media as a ‘Gang of Killer Lesbians’.
I Am Divine: Sat 30 May, 8pm
The story of Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, from his humble beginnings as an overweight, teased Baltimore youth to internationally recognised drag superstar through his collaboration with filmmaker John Waters.
Memoirs of a Killarney Houseboy + Just Then: Sat 30 May, 10pm
Memoirs of a Killarney Houseboy is about an older gay man who was once the toast of the gay rave scene. We follow him as he takes care of residences in a high-rise Johannesburg suburb, overrun with old Jewish ladies and gay men. Director Dean Hutton unveils a brand new edit of this short film.
In Just Then, two women discover a world of connection, understanding and beautiful madness as they develop a deep intimacy and love for each other. One has a difficult choice to make. A film by Jessica Denyschen and photographer Marie Coetzer.
Regarding Susan Sontag: Sun 31 May, 3pm
An intimate and nuanced investigation into the life of one of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the 20th century. Passionate and gracefully outspoken throughout her career, Susan Sontag became one of the most important literary, political and feminist icons of her generation.
Different From the Others + Thrush: Sun 31 May, 5pm
Made in 1919, Different From The Others is the first feature film that openly presented and defended homosexuality. Two male musicians fall in love, but blackmail and scandal makes the affair take a tragic turn. This silent film will be accompanied by a live score performed in the cinema.
Thrush is a short silent film by Bulgarian born, South African-based cult filmmaker — Stanimir Stoykov, starring the late and notorious drag artiste — Sharon Bone. This movie is in bad taste! Proceed with caution.
Skoonheid: Sun 31 May, 7pm
A South African businessman leading a double life finds his obsessions leading him in a dark, troubling direction in this drama from local filmmaker Oliver Hermanus. While he’s openly homophobic, he’s sexually attracted to men and takes part in periodic group sex sessions with other white, married men. Skoonheid became the first Afrikaans film to be screened at Cannes.
One Zero One: Tue 2 June, 7pm
This 90-minutes long documen-tale tells a true story about a most unique friendship, that between 33-year-old Maroccaine-German Mourad and 48-year-old Dutch Antoine, two drag-performers known as Cybersissy and Babyjane.
Who’s Afraid of Vagina Woolf: Tues 2 Jun 9:30pm
The day after her 40th birthday, a filmmaker who’s sacrificed her love life for her film career realises she has neither, decides to embark on adapting an all-female version of, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Salvation Army: Wed 3 Jun, 7pm.
Abdellah’s story is in two parts. First, as a teenager in a dark and sexual Morocco, then as a young adult landing in Geneva. Abdellah Taïa (39) is the first Moroccan and Arab writer to have openly come out about his homosexuality.
Dakan: Wed 3 Jun, 9pm (free admission)
Dakan will be remembered as the first feature film on homosexuality from sub-Saharan Africa. While “coming out” may have become primetime fare in the US, this film was met with angry protests when it was shot in the director’s native Guinea.