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Saturday, July 20, 2013


( A scene from the movie, courtesy of the DIFF website)

Appearing on the current Durban International Film Festival is Born This Way directed by Deb Tullmann and Shaun Kadlec. (Review by Pranesh Maharaj)

A quiet and deliberately under-lit scene adorns the start. Two women in very private surroundings start to chat. It is provocatively captured without an ounce of cheese. I was wondering at this point whether the directors had a story to tell or did they just plan on plonking rushes into a timeline and call it a documentary? But, it moved from there and it moved me along with it. It had poignant moments that gave you a glimpse of where the title came from. It was honest. It had a beginning, a high point and an end.

Documentaries are meant to have a story and they are meant to take the viewer on a journey. For me, Born This Way did exactly that. In keeping with the tradition of storytelling it also provided those moment of empathy and confusion. It kept the viewer asking ‘What Next?’ This was good film making, if that’s your thing. The sound was very well-levelled and doctored to support the imagery.

The subject matter is not as sensitive in other parts of the world; mainly because there is no law that jails a person for five years because they are gay. Once the law has your back, the outlaws tend to be braver in their attacks. There is no room left for social tolerance. But, in doccies like this you yearn to hear the other side. And just when that thought flashed in my mind; there was this car ride. Presumably a taxi driver who, in all ignorance, asked the most pertinent questions and a very brave young woman answered them. His questions had us all in stitches but they also affirmed society’s ignorance to the subject and the people that lead these lives. “These lives?” an activist might say. Being Gay is not a choice, but choosing to live on the knife’s edge. That is certainly a choice; and a very brave one.  

The two people that stood out in this film were Gertrude and Cedric who individually had their own journeys that tied up at this little place where they accepted each other. It reminded me of that Urdu charm used in poetry, Maikhane. The movie ends in this place.  

Tickets for DIFF are through the respective venues and prices range from R25 to R35 (R50 for 3D screenings), except at Luthuli Museum, Blue Waters, Ekhaya and Bay of Plenty lawns, which are free of charge.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, and other public information outlets. Full festival details can also be found on or by calling 031 260 2506. - Pranesh Maharaj