home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 
 
 
Advertising Opportunities
Press Kit
Research Guide
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Copyright
Special Features Index
 
video review
 
Bookmark and Share
where to find this video      related encyclopedia entries
Dark and Lovely, Soft and Free (2002)
Directed by:  Paulo Alberton and Graeme Reid
Distributed by:  Frameline
Run time:  52 minutes
Country:  South Africa

Review by: Wik Wikholm
Reviewed on: May 01, 2011

In Dark and Lovely, Soft and Free, city-dwelling narrator Zakhi Ranebe teams up with hairdresser Martin Machapa (or "The Diva," as he is known to friends) to travel to the hinterlands of black South Africa and explore rural black male queer life there. The pair connect with gay hairdressers in rural villages and a gold mining town to gain entry into their tiny queer communities.

Director, cinematographer, and sound man Paulo Alberton exploits the rich colors and textures of village life, the buffs, blues, and browns of the countryside, and the song and dance of the villagers Zakhi and Martin visit to create a rich backdrop for the stories they tell.

The sexualities and lifestyles the film reveals are surprising because of the variety of ways queer rural South Africans have found to create communities and the incapacity of Western categories like gay, bisexual, and transgender to adequately capture villagers’ identities and experiences. Equally surprising, most male queer villagers in the film, even those who are gender non-conforming or completely open about their queer sexualities, actively participate in the life of their village communities, including their nominally Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches.

One interviewee is a respected traditional healer who wears female attire; another is a "mine wife," whom the miner’s geographically distant female wife considers her husband’s legitimate second wife. Another segment explores the way several men have adopted female names and created an all-male family that uses traditional kinship terms such as mother, daughter, and sister.

Additional segments, each organized around a visit to a different village or town, include interviews with a closeted gay farmer, the mother of Miss Gay Queenstown who glows with pride at her son’s success in the Gay Queenstown pageant, and a leader of GLORA, the Gay and Lesbian Organization of Ratanda.

Dark and Lovely, Soft and Free is an excellent film for students of queer studies and African cultures because it undermines preconceptions of rural South Africa as homophobic or desperate and depressed. While the video doesn’t conceal the absence of urban material comforts, de facto racial segregation in some towns, or the occasional homophobic slur, it introduces viewers to the highly variable, culturally rich, and sometimes even joyous life in the queer subcommunities that exist within South Africa’s rural black villages and towns.

Where to Find this Video

Licensing for public exhibition and for educational and other institutions is available from Frameline.
 
Related Encyclopedia Entries
Achmat, Zackie
Documentary Film
Evangelical Christians
Roman Catholicism
South Africa
About Wik Wikholm
Wik Wikholm is the publisher of glbtq.com. He is always on the lookout for engaging, informative documentaries about all aspects of glbtq life and culture. You can reach him here.

 

 

browse:   arts   literature   social-sciences   discussion boards
 
learn more about glbtq       contact us       advertise on glbtq.com
 
Bookmark and Share

glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2014, glbtq, Inc.

Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.
 
 
Hot Topics in Special Features
Film Actors: Gay And Bisexual Male
 
Film Actors: Lesbian and Bisexual Female
 
Film Directors: Lesbian and Bisexual Female
 
Lesbian Paris (ca 1900-1940)
 
Eric Patterson on Brokeback Mountain
 
Imaging Derek Jarman
 
Women's Activism at the Turn of the 20th Century
 
Romantic Friendship
 
Gay Male Art in America: 1900-1969
 
The Photography of Laurie Toby Edison
 
 
subscribe
Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter to receive a spotlight on glbtq culture every month.
e-mail address:
 
 
 
  unsubscribe