“PRIDE,” a compelling South African documentary directed by Siyabulela Nozewu, offers a powerful exploration of the realities, truths, and misconceptions surrounding the LGBTQI+ community in township spaces. In some instances, these issues lead to horrific hate crimes and rampant homophobia.
Produced by New Brighton Pictures, the film aims to educate and create awareness, fostering a deeper understanding of the LGBTQI+ community as individuals entitled to the same human rights enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
OUT LGBT Well-Being, represented by its Human Rights Coordinator Sibonelo Ncanana-Trower, played a role in the film’s production. “PRIDE” delves into OUT’s work, including community building and LGBTIQ+ advocacy against hate crimes, focusing on the city of Gqeberha and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.
What sets this documentary apart is its ability to highlight the often challenging and personal realities of queer lives in a lighter, more amusing manner without diminishing the dignity of its subjects. This approach enables viewers to connect with the individuals on screen and engage with the issues without succumbing to the dark emotions at play.
“PRIDE” addresses serious topics, such as the church’s role in weaponising religion to create environments fostering violence against queer bodies. Notably, the film also reflects the resilience of queer individuals within religious settings.
The documentary underscores how individuals, by embracing their authentic selves, can positively impact communities and contribute to community building. While the beautiful use of language is commendable, it may pose a challenge for viewers unfamiliar with the unique linguistic context of Bhayi (Gqeberha), potentially leading to instances where individuals appear to be misgendered.
“PRIDE” also narrates the tragic story of Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela, a 41-year-old member of the LGBTIQ+ community murdered in a brutal hate crime in March 2021 by Luvuyo Jonas. Shockingly, Jonas claimed his “religious beliefs” motivated the killing. The film presents this tragic incident in a deeply moving and respectful manner, preserving Lulu’s humanity while highlighting the depth of violence and injustices faced by queer bodies. This segment truly does justice to Lulu.
A small criticism lies in the inaccuracies in the definitions of the LGBTIQ+ acronym featured at the beginning of the documentary, potentially causing confusion or offense to viewers. Despite this, “PRIDE” stands as an important and impactful film, contributing much-needed depth, authenticity, and richness to the documentation and representation of queer lives in the Eastern Cape.
Review by Sibonelo Ncanana-Trower