• Golden Globe Awards

Moffie (South Africa)

In South Africa the word “moffie” is a homophobic term for homosexual. It is also the title of a fine film by Oliver Hermanus.The film deals with a best forgotten period in South African history, when the apartheid government was embroiled in conflict at the Angolan border which required all white men over 16 to serve two years of compulsory military service to defend the racist regime against “communist” incursions.
The film concentrates on the character of Nicholas who passively participates in cruel exercises in the hope of concealing his homosexual identity. Under the watch of a sadistic Afrikaner sergeant he has to hide his sexuality, pretending to read pornographic magazines and acting macho with other conscripts. Despite his best resolve he shares an intimate night with another recruit which awakens his suppressed desire. When that recruit is exposed he is sent to a psych ward where he is drugged, placed among the clinically insane, and submitted to a conversion program. Although the film is essentially about Nicholas’ personal conflicts, it is also unrelenting in portraying the callousness and sadism built into the system.
The leading role is played by handsome newcomer Kyle Luke Brummer, who should expect Hollywood to come calling. Equally impressive is the work of director Oliver Hermanus, whose previous films, Shirley Adams and Beauty were prize winners at film festivals but were never released in the U.S. Following the critical acclaim for Moffie, Hermanus has been given his first international assignment directing Bill Nighy in Living.
Hermanus, who happens to be of mixed heritage, told Culture magazine: “At the beginning, making a film about the trauma of a white South African man, set in the 80s, seemed sort of ridiculous to me, because I’m not white, I’m mixed race and my family was oppressed by the apartheid government. When we look at the problems of South Africa today, the toxic masculinity, the social ills and our inability to overcome them, we’ve shifted from rainbow nation thinking to anger.”
The film is based on a best selling novel but the film and the book are completely different. The only things retained from the book is the name of the main character and his sexual journey while in the army. But what the film underscores is how apartheid bred a certain kind of hatred that infested the country.
Moffie will be released in the U.S. by IFC Films in mid March.