Saturday, June 10, 2006

Report of the 2006 film festival - Week 1

How could I know if my boyfriend is gay? asked one woman after seeing Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain opened SASOD’s film festival and the audience had different reactions to the film. Some people felt that the story of unfulfilled love resonated with many other couples who could not be together for one reason or another, while others realized the difficulty faced by people who tried to live heterosexual lives while being gay. One woman said she thought the acting was crap.
The documentary of Flowers from the Heartland dealt with same sex marriages. One woman in the audience cried throughout the film, she did not why she did. Other people wondered what the fuss about gay marriage was about, in a society in which less people are marrying.
The comedy Eating Out raised questions about the sexual desires and fulfilling them, posing questions about the nature of fantasies and the exploration of same sex encounters. Can a straight man enjoy a kiss with another man? Is it that easy for a straight man to have a sexual encounter with another man – even with the woman of his desires encouraging him?
Better than Chocolate is a comedy which examined women’s sexuality – lesbianism, relationships with younger men, female masturbation, and the issues around transsexualism. Transsexualism is often confused with homosexuality, and some persons in the audience empathized with the characther when she insisted that “I am not a drag queen’. A woman in the audience was annoyed that the transsexual depicted feminitiy as passive in some instances in when many women would not be.
The film Proteus brought home the history of homophobia and the punishment of those who were accused of sodomy. A sometimes homophobic employees of the café did not realize that the legal penalties for private business could be death and life imprisonment. The South African shorts brought powerful glimpses of lives of gay and lesbian South Africans. The story of Reverend Nkuthola resonated with the audience. She survived excommunication from her church, and then a gang rape in which she was blamed. She became a priest. Her words at the end..”.no prayers can change what God created resonated with the audience, some of whom spontaneously applauded. An expatriate worker was surprised that the film festival was taking place, given the homophobic comments he had witnessed, while other people were very moved by all the films.
The feedback from the first week has been interesting. One reporter expressed disappointment that he could not find any SASOD members who would come out publicly to say that they are not heterosexual, like the subjects in the films.
One man said found the south African shorts thought provoking and felt that the issues should be discussed after the films. Other people said that they would prefer to go home since too much intellectual talk in the night would spoil the night. This man also said he had wondered whether the SASOD film festival would not be a gathering at which people could come to hook up for sex, and thereby reinforce the negativity associated with the ‘gay lifestyle’ , but was relieved to find that it did not appear so.. He agreed that he would be returning for the other films,which will continue Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the rest of June at Sidewalk Café.

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