Gifted South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus (Beauty) is back with another powerfully involving, intensely thought-provoking drama that mixes cultural attitudes to homosexuality with a personal love story. Set in 1981, Moffie is an Apartheid-era drama that carries a strong emotional kick.
At the centre is 16-year-old Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), drafted into military service on the Angola border. His family is thrilled that this will finally make a man of him, and when he excels, it makes him even better at hiding his sexuality. But as he begins a secret relationship with a sexy fellow conscript, other gay men are being violently outed and sent to brainwashing clinics.
The title is a South African gay slur, and it’s impressive that Hermanus keeps the film’s tone so personal and sensitive. This is an exploration of a young man who learned early on to conceal who he really was, and to accept the idea that he would never find love. Then he begins to think there might be another way. It’s a gorgeous film that’s packed with a whole range of feelings, challenging the audience to stand up against small acts of bigotry that society considers acceptable. Which makes it more haunting than hopeful. Jack Cline
Moffie will open in cinemas later in the year.
The Uncertain Kingdom
Aiming to paint a distinct portrait of the UK today, The Uncertain Kingdom is a collection of 20 short films by a range of filmmakers exploring issues like sexuality, immigration, climate change and disability. Clearly set up as a response to Brexit, the shorts now have even stronger echoes as the COVID-19 chaos takes over the world.
The films are made by the likes of award-winner Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling), Guy Jenkin (Drop the Dead Donkey) and actors Ray Panthaki (Colette) and Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Bright Star). Actors appearing in the films include Alice Lowe, Mark Addy, Ruth Madeley (Years & Years) and Laurie Davidson (The Good Liar).
One queer highlight is Jason Bradbury’s film Isaac and the Ram, about a skinhead who reluctantly offers a homeless gay teen a place to stay for one tense night. The collection includes dramas, satires, dance, documentaries and experimental films. In addition to previews and Q&A screenings, the collection arrives in UK cinemas on 2 April and will continue to roll out with local and privately hosted screenings. JC
For information: theuncertainkingdom.co.uk
FILMS AT HOME…
Top 3 (out now) is a charming Swedish animated romance about two young guys who fall hard for each other. The hand-drawn imagery is witty and colourful, creating cute, vivid characters who interact with engaging humour and emotion, including sex and nudity. The DVD includes two more queer shorts.
Darkroom (out now) is an artful and offbeat gay thriller from Germany, centring on a cute but awkward young man who, while in a loving open relationship, secretly cruises for men and poisons them. It’s strikingly original, sexy and creepy, making up for how the theatrical visual style leaves it somewhat clinical.
From Zero to I Love You (14 Apr) is an American rom-com that’s bright and watchable even if it feels somewhat simplistic. It stars the hot, effortlessly charming Darryl Stephens as a guy with a penchant for married guys. His fast-growing romance with a father of two is complicated when he meets another man. Warm, witty escapism.
The Blond One (27 Apr), by Argentina’s Margo Berger, beautifully traces the complex attraction between two men with very different views of their sexuality. Berger is terrific at depicting masculinity with steamy physicality, and the film never shies away from nuanced details. JC