Now in its 7th year, this annual cinematic celebration of independent queer cinema, the Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (DGLFF), is expanding its reach within the Ethekwini region with screening venues that will include Durban's Outer West LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & intersex) communities. From both a practical and demand-driven perspective, #DGLFF2017 has recognised that for many, the journey to "town" is both expensive and often far. Therefore festival director Jason Fiddler has successfully negotiated with Tina's Hotel in Kloof, home to Roland Stansell's branch of Rhumbelow Theatre, to host two evening screenings of films on Thursday 31 August and Friday 1 September.
The Festival runs from 25 August to 3 September 2017 and includes the aha Waterfront Hotel & Spa in Point, Alliance Francaise and the Durban Lesbian & Gay Centre in Morningside, and the KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood as screening venues over its 10 day run.
Securing 'INXEBA' as the Opening Night Film for Friday 25 August at The Waterfront Hotel & Spa in Point, for the city's LGBTIQ community audience, festival director Fiddler couldn't be prouder or happier: "I've known about 'THE WOUND' ('INXEBA') as a project since the 2014 Durban FilmMart, when producer Elias Ribeiro was pitching it as a project for financing. I told him there and then I wanted it for DGLFF one day. Our audiences deserved to see a great locally made film that spoke to their own experiences, that shared their own stories. Elias' earlier gay short films had been included in our previous festivals, so I knew that he would be keen to maintain that relationship. I just never anticipated what an insanely huge deal this would be!" Growing social media attention of the film has led to some very strong calls for protest, as some in the Xhosa community and elsewhere have deemed the film a serious issue for them, bordering on cultural exploitation.
Described by Variety magazine as “a milestone in South African cinema”, 'INXEBA' stars musician and novelist Nakhane Touré as Xolani, a lonely factory worker who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. Amidst sporadic calls for boycott, and some reports of threats to cast members, Fiddler is pragmatic: "The country is still very naive when it comes to our rights to freedom of expression, of protection against discrimination. The Constitution is there for a very good reason: to work against hegemony, hatred and homophobia. Whilst I'm deeply concerned that the intolerance and aggression displayed by some is very real, I also expect that many detractors haven't actually seen this powerful piece of cinema. We must have the space to express our creativity, artistry and views frankly and without intimidation."
The DGLFF line up this year also includes as Closing Night Film young filmmaker Thishiwe Ziqubu's ' SINA NOMAKOTSHANA' ('Dance with the Maiden'), a 24 minute short film about a girl falling in love with her contemporary dance partner and coming out of the closet during her traditional Zulu initiation. Other South African content includes Allan McDonald's moving documentary 'LOCKED IN' about transgender people within the Xhosa and Muslim communities, including their very real struggles for acceptance. DGLFF will also host the world premiere of Durban filmmaker Dayakar Padayachee's 40 minute gay short 'SHADOW', a psychological horror following a gay Indian teen's decent into darkness during his parent's growingly ugly divorce, as a malevolent force takes hold.
Included in the two-night Tina's Hotel line up on Thursday 31 August and Friday 1 September are the Argentinean drama 'BROMANCE' (a feature film about three friends who realise they've grown as young men and their relationship is devolving on a weekend getaway at the beach), 'INXEBA', 'BOYS FOR SALE' (an adults-only feature documentary that takes a candid journey with Urisen, mainly straight gay-for-pay escorts, in Japan's oldest red light district) and 'SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER' (a surprisingly complex comedy-musical-romance that follows two high school guys who's whirlwind romance goes awry, and who find one another very different people years later; expect some really original vocal performances by some known TV talent).
Further, Fiddler has curated two sets of short films for outer west audiences. Running at 67 minutes, Lesbian Shorts includes three beautiful short films ('LILY' from Ireland; 'THE MASTERFUL HERMIT' from Wales; and 'THE PRETTY THINGS ARE GOING TO HELL' from Denmark) that explore tender relationships, old flames that turn up unexpectedly and the pain of parting. Spanish Gay Shorts (running 54 minutes) includes a trio of Spanish-language short films that explore the bisexual feelings of a man between his girlfriend and his best friend ('GOLDFISH' from Mexico), the very real matter of a couple who need to frankly discuss their sex life having been involved for some time ('VERSATILE' from Spain) and how little white lies can make for hilarious complications with grandma on your wedding day ('THE MARRIAGE' from Spain)!
With 7 feature films, 11 documentaries and almost 30 short films from 14 countries globally, including South Africa, the DGLFF expects to speak to the interests of many different audiences. Fiddler encourages mainstream audiences who love good cinema to participate: "Ours is an inclusive Festival. You don't have to be gay, or lesbian, or otherwise to appreciate these well made films. You just need to be open minded, and make the effort to discover new stories."
Further information is available on the Festival Website: www.dglff.org.za