Bart Luirink

Movies that Matter | The Bastard and The Wound

Photo: from The Bastard

Two Africa-related productions at this year Movies that Matter film-festival in the Netherlands convincingly move away from the dominant narratives of international aid.

You can win two tickets for any of your choice.
Send us an email before Thursday 22 March, 12 PM and put 'Movies that Matter' in the subject line

This years’ Movies that Matter festival has an exciting selection of new Africa-related film productions. A number of them play into the dominant tendencies in international aid. City of Joy features women 'who speak out against rape in the Congo conflict', Jaha's Promise portrays Gambian activist Jaha Dukureh and her fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) while Une Saison en France tells a story of migration, centred on Abbas who flees with his two kids from the Central African Republic to France. This, the announcement says, comes with an array of setbacks. Lastly, Thank you for the rain portrays a Kenyan farmer fighting the effects of climate change and attending the global climate conference in Paris.

I haven't seen the doccies so I am not judging. But somehow the briefs suggest a diet of the predictable. Some of the directors and activists portrayed will attend the festival. Let me not discourage you, they might surprise you.

Out of a desire to explore the unknown I choose to preview two of the festival's productions whose briefs triggered my attention. The Bastard tells the multi-layered story of Ethiopian native Daniël Hoek and his Dutch father Joop Hoek, who left him when he was a child. His mixed background does not help in finding his way in life. He was stigmatised, ended up living on the street and got involved in crime. Would his life be different if his father hadn't left?

Daniël manages to get in touch with a half-brother in Friesland, the Netherlands, and through him with his father. We get to know a man who grew up in colonial Dutch Indonesia, went back to the Netherlands and moved on to Uganda where he lived for more than forty years. The man's utter racism as well as traumatic experiences in his relationship with his father completely frustrate any reconciliation with his son. It seems that the wisdom of the bastard, the son who made a career as a successful writer after being released from prison, finally gnaws through the shields of paternalism, denial and the absence of an ability to warmly interact. Finally, the father shows some remorse.

Watch the trailer here:

Few movies have provoked so much debate in South Africa as The Wound, a story about Ukwaluka, a lenghty, tribally rooted rite of passage for male Xhosa teens. The film starts with the ritual circumcision and moves on through themes of homosexuality and secrecy. Based on a book by Thando Mgqolazana, who also worked on the screenplay with Malusi Bengu and director John Trengove, The Wound explores the hidden desires of men. Xolani, a magnificent role by actor and musician Nakhane Touré returns to the Eastern Cape wilderness to perform as a 'caregiver', the man who guides the adolescents in the ritual. One of them is Kwanda, a 16-year old openly gay factory worker from Johannesburg. While taking part the guy abhors initiation. When he discovers Xolani's big secret – his gay sexual orientation – it shakes the foundations of his existence.

The Wound has received accolades at film-festivals worldwide. Locally, conservative traditionalists asked for the movie to be banned, disrupted some screenings and intimidated some of the actors. The official Censorship Board initially gave in to the demands of the traditionalist but in February a South African court ordered to unban the movie.

Watch the trailer here:

Check this year's programme of Movies that Matter here.

Journalist Marnix de Bruyne (De Correspondent) will interview Bart Luirink, ZAM editor and co-author of 'Homosexuality in Africa. A Disturbing Love' about The Wound after the screening on Monday 26 March 2018.

You can win two tickets for any film of your choice during the festival:

Send us an email before Thursday 22 March, 12 PM and put 'Movies that Matter' in the subject line. The winner will be notified by email.

The Bastard will be shown in Dutch cinemas from March 29. No other releases are known at the moment.