John Trengove, 2017


“I’m a man!” shouts each male initiate as he undergoes the painful ritual that signals entry into adulthood in the Xhosa community.

The physical wounding occurs early on, but it’s the psychological damage caused by generations of repressed homosexual desire in South Africa that is explored most potently in John Trengove’s masterful debut.

Factory worker Xolani is tasked with aiding a “rich boy from Joburg” through the process, while secretly pursuing an affair with fellow male “caregiver” Vija.

As a tense triangular relationship develops, subtle visual storytelling — trainers under tribal robes, silhouetted scenes of intimacy — recalls the artful Moonlight, and reveals a country striving to reconcile old traditions with rapid modernisation.


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