I may be preaching to the choir, here, but you’re never too old or too open-minded to learn new things, and that is why I’d like to present you with 23 things I learned from Afrikaans queer movies on Showmax. Because The L Word and Modern Family are good places to start, but we need some local spice.
9 things I learned from the documentary Skeef
Skeef is a 40-minute documentary about the lives of LGBTQI+ people in South Africa presented and directed by Jacaranda FM presenter Renaldo Schwarp.
1. This doccie opens with the best quote ever by Jason Collins, who is one of the first openly gay athletes to play in any of the major leagues in the USA and Canada: “Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start”. Read it again. These few words really do say a lot.
2. Being “different” is still a huge issue. Skeef deals with stigmas surrounding LGBTQI+ people and addresses their troublesome journeys to acceptance, not only in society but also in their religious beliefs and their support structures.
3. Speaking of religion – Marc Lottering’s father was a minister in a Pentecostal church, so understandably Marc lived a severely closeted life.
4. The kiss between two men in Getroud Met Rugby created a moerse stir! Like Marc Lottering says: “They dusted off those bibles they never read”.
5. Bernard Buys, aka Betty Bangles, is quite fabulous as a cross dressing entertainer. Check it out:
(Want more drag? Try HBO’s We’re Here.)
6. Cher Peterson, a journalism student who is trans, talks about dealing with hate crimes, and mentions that they affect a third of all trans people.
7. Quite unbelievably, gay sex is still illegal in 72 countries!
8. Coming out is not something you do once – it happens repeatedly with every single person you engage with.
9. Charl-Johan Lingenvelder, co-writer of Kanarie, received hundreds of messages of people thanking him for making the movie immediately after its release.
Hear Bernard Buys talking about the importance of documentaries like Skeef:
And here he is discussing LGBTQI+ representation in film and television:
5 things the movie Moffie taught me
Moffie is a powerful drama set in 1980s apartheid South Africa against the backdrop of the Angolan border war. It follows a young man who hides the secret of his sexuality because it could get him killed.
1. The South African army conscription (compulsory enrolment to serve in the armed forces) was one of the kakkest ideas ever. It was enforced from 9 June 1967 to 23 August 1993. Young men were broken down (ja-ja, I know to “be built up” – trek die ander piel), shouted at, humiliated and physically and mentally abused. Those were just the normal Afrikaans straight okes. Imagine you were a soutie. Or gay. Or both? Every South African should watch this movie.
2. The 4:3 aspect ratio look (technically 1.37:1) makes the film seem more authentic for the time in which it takes place, the 80s.
3. The use of the k-word eight minutes into the movie hits you like a bullet and that tiny scene alone tells you quite a lot of what black South Africans had to go through under apartheid.
4. A Scope magazine was like a bulletproof vest in the South African army in the 80s. If a gay man in the army wanted to make the other troepies believe that he was straight as a rifle, this “Huisgenoot with tiete” was his ticket to get out of getting moered by a homophobe.
5. This is the only quote you need from a “reviewer” to convince you that Moffie is a good movie, because the truth probably hurts this oke right in the feels. “As an ex national service man in South Africa this is a LOT OF BULL” (sic). Side note: It’s not a movie about the army. It’s a movie about male masculinity, friendship and herd mentality. It could have played off on a racist spaceship as well, Boomer.
Listen to comedian Casper de Vries talk about his own experience being gay in the SANDF:
9 things the South African war drama Kanarie taught me
Kanarie tells the story of a small-town boy who has to serve his compulsory two-year military service and gets chosen to be in the South African Defence Force Choir, known as The Canaries, in this beautiful coming-of-age musical war drama by award-winning director Christiaan Olwagen.
1. Schalk Bezuidenhout has some killer dance moves and the dude can really sing. He doesn’t look all that kak in a wedding dress either.
2. I’m pretty sure Kanarie covers absolutely all the worst Afrikaans swear words on earth, compliments of Corporal Crunchie (played by Beer Adriaanse).
3. It is probably the first and only Afrikaans movie with full-frontal male nudity. Piele fokken orals in die stort! Thanks, again, Corporal Crunchie.
4. Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe is the greatest 80s Afrikaans drunk horny cougar in the role but her character has so much depth and even though it’s a small role, it plays an important role in the bigger scheme of things.
5. This film lays bare the schizophrenic, hypocritical and entangled nature of the army and the church of the 80s when there was barely any separation between church and state.
6. Schalk should definitely be cast in more serious roles.
7. When you’re lonely, music makes for the best friend.
8. You should never give up anything of yourself in exchange for acceptance.
9. Perhaps this quote from Kanarie best sums up the challenges the LGBQTI+ community faces on a daily basis: “Ons sing in ‘n koor maar ons het nie ‘n stem nie!” (“We sing in a choir but we don’t have a voice!”)
Why should you watch Kanarie and what should you take away from it? Let’s hand over the mic to the leading actor, Schalk Bezuidenhout: