Moffie – a movie made for love

Comedian and radio personality Wayne Mckay, from Bayview, Lynden Jafta, from Paarl, radio presenter and actor Maurice Carpede and his wife Amanda, who is a blogger, from Strandfontein Village.

Film-maker Oliver Hermanus’s latest movie, Moffie, will be at cinemas countrywide from Friday March 13.

Mr Hermanus, 36, who was raised in Kenilworth, tells the story of a 17-year-old white teenager being conscripted to defend the apartheid regime’s southern Angolan border in the 1980s.

At the South African premier at The Fugard Theatre, on Monday March 2, he paid tribute to film producer, Eric Abrahams, who he referred to as an “enabler of creative people and of talent”.

Mr Hermanus recalled Mr Abrahams telling him the day before they started shooting the film that it was a labour of love.

“We are making this movie for love. Love of cinema. Love of storytelling. A love of telling those stories to an audience in the dark of a movie house.”

The movie was first screened to the cast and crew at The Fugard in October last year on their return from Venice where Moffie premiered internationally.

“We were unprepared for the reaction to the film overseas. It has been truly overwhelming,” said Mr Hermanus.

He said director of photography Jamie D Ramsay was shooting a Universal Studios film and actors had been signed to international talent agents.

Moffie has received four British independent film nominations, including best picture, which is “very impressive for a film in Afrikaans in 1981 South Africa”, said Mr Hermanus.

It is due to be screened in the UK in more than a month’s time.

The film was shot in South Africa, cut in Brussels, coloured in New York, mixed in Paris and mastered in Cape Town.

“I have been looking forward to bringing it home to all of you because this is a film about South Africa.

“It is a film about our past, indoctrination and about this word (moffie) that often serves as a weapon of dehumanisation.

“This is also a film about a generation and it is our hope that this film recognises their experiences. My hope is that you will tell everyone to go and see our film.”

This is Mr Hermanus’s fourth film, which he says has travelled the fastest “like a virus” in terms of being recognised.

He said each of his films denotes a time in his life — “who I was at that particular age”.

Mr Hermanus said making the films he wants to make was the “sweet part of making films”.

“When you have choice,” he said.

This was his first adaptation film, which was based on the autobiographical novel by Andre Carl van der Merwe — based on diaries he kept as a teenager and during his compulsory apartheid regime enforced national service.

The film tells the story of two gay men, Nicholas van der Swart and Dylan Stassen, who attempt to come to terms with their homosexuality during their two-year conscription.

In doing so, Mr Hermanus said it was rather impractical to have the actors shave their hair because it would not have grown fast enough during filming.

“It would have broken the narrative of the film,” he said.

The film is indicative of Mr Hermanus’s style of cinematography, with landscape shots. He uses a film language denoting emotion and mood, which somewhat reflects the way Mr Hermanus sees the world.

He said quite a bit of research was done to ensure the authenticity and specificity to set the tone and scenes of the militant regime.

“There is the research into the war itself, the political context, who is doing what and what people are doing in a manner, which best interprets that era,” he said.

As an encore to the film, online at www.moffiefilm.com, Mr Hermanus is in conversation with 10 gay men, from various races and backgrounds, telling of their experiences with the word moffie. The men include performers Pieter Dirk Uys, Marc Lottering and Siphesihle Dube who speak about their connection, history and their ownership of the term “moffie”.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.moffiefilm.com