|Along with a spotlight on Iraq, a sporting story collection, a 'heroes and villains' showcase and several new local productions, 2007's DocoNZ festival presents several far-reaching and surprising LGBT stories.
The Documentary Film Festival begins in Auckland this weekend and tours through Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington.
This year's festival also joins the movement against global warming with a CO2-free policy and the local premiere of Leo DiCaprio's 'The 11th Hour' story of planet earth in crisis.
Here's the scoop on some of the films featuring LGBT themes:
Darling!: The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story
Pieter-Dirk Uys becoming Mrs Evita Bezuidenhot In the 1980's, the most famous white woman in Africa - Mrs Evita Bezuidenhot - was a male political satirist. Pieter-Dirk Uys was a highly acclaimed comic, whose alter-ego Evita was outspoken in the fight against apartheid.
Entertainer, political satirist, sex educator and female impersonator: Peter-Dirk Uys is a man of many faces. A hero to thousands of South African children — and friend to Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela — he's also somewhat of an enigma. Until now…
New Zealander and first-time director Julian Shaw first became mesmerized by this Afrikaner raconteur and drag icon at the age of 15.
Later his fascination grew when he heard of Uys's “AIDS Awareness Entertainment” programme used for school children. Never shy of tackling even the most controversial national issue, Uys now uses his inimitable skill as a mimic and raconteur to politicise the HIV/AIDS pandemic at grassroots level.
Darling! Director Julian Shaw Believing that he can help to prevent South Africa's teenagers from joining the ranks of the estimated 5.5 million citizens with the virus, Uys travels the country wowing students of all backgrounds, flagrantly raising the most taboo subjects. Shaw was so taken by the man that he took it upon himself to make a film about a fearless man with a mission — and a mandate. And alter-ego Evita Se Perron is just as outspoken!
Darling! combines footage of Pieter's charismatic and rousing performances with moving interviews and will inspire you with the powerful persona of Pieter and the profound effect his work has on his audiences and his nation.
Renita's story is from Indonesia with English subtitles. Trapped in a male body, she wanted to be a doctor and a woman since she was a child but her parents forced her to study at a Islamic school where she was bullied and ostracised.
Renita rebelled by becoming a prostitute in the hope of finding freedom but instead found that it came at a cost – she experienced brutality and was discriminated against by her family and the Indonesian society in which she lived.
Freeheld Lieutenant Laurel Hester spent 25 years of her life fighting for justice and serving the people of Ocean County, New Jersey. Forced to leave her job after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, all she wants to do is leave her pension benefits to her life partner. So what is the problem?
Well, her life partner is a woman and in Ocean County, the elected country officials only recognize heterosexual partnerships. So they refused to recognize the legitimacy of her relationship with Stacie.
In 2005, with less than six months to live, Laurel refuses to back down and launches a final battle for justice to provide for the love of her life and ensure that Stacie can keep the family home. The case spurs national media frenzy and a passionate advocacy campaign.
Acclaimed director Cynthia Wade masterfully weaves together a nail-biting, gripping and tender documentary about one courageous woman's titanic struggle and one loving couple on the verge of losing each other. As Laurel's plight worsens, you can literally feel the minutes tick away.
By simply presenting the facts without hype or spin, Wade presents perhaps the single best, most coherent argument for gay rights in years - but it is more than a gay rights film. It is a journey that few of us will forget or want to forget, filled with courage and hope for everyone who believes in equality and the power of love.
Jerusalem is Proud to Present
Jerulsalem is Proud to Present A gay pride parade in the Holy City? Presented in Hebrew, English, Arabic, Yiddish with English subtitles, Jerusalem is Proud to Present exposes the underbelly of religion, fanaticism and politics and candidly reveals the vicious struggle of a city torn between tradition and transformation.
In the summer of 2006, for the first time in history, Jerusalem was to host the World Pride events, set to culminate in a traditional gay pride parade. The week long festival stirred turmoil in the politically complex metropolis, with Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders banding together in an uncompromising battle against what they said would “defile the holy city”.
“God will punish us if we allow this to happen” says an ultra-orthodox rabbi at a press conference where the three faiths condemned the plans for the march.
On the other side stood the activists of the Open House, Jerusalem's LGBTQ community centre, who planned the pride events. Steadfast in the face of the heated and violent anti-gay sentiment, they had to deal with threats to much more than just their right to march. The politics which surrounded the organisation of the proposed march were subsequently overshadowed by the ensuing war with Hezbollah which created further obstacles for the march organisers. With every twist and turn, director Nitzan Gilady followed the unfolding of the extraordinary event. Equally eye-opening are the fierce clashes that took place between the liberal and religious councillors which Gilady filmed with surprising access.
Jerusalem is Proud to Present is an explosive and controversial expose of the complex dynamics between religion, politics and human rights.
The Birthday This film from The Netherlands follows a young Iranian man's decision to become a woman and his conservative parents who are challenged to come to terms with it.
In 1976, Ayatollah Khomeini imposed a fatwa to allow people with hormonal disorders to change sex if they wished, because the Koran doesn't say anything on the subject. Transgender people don't have to fear prosecution and they even can change their birth certificates and be “born” again.
Film-makers Daisy Mohr and Negin Kianfar take us on a journey with the men and women awaiting gender re-assignment and their families and consider the effects that the sex change procedure will have over many aspects of their subjects' lives including their faith and their personal liberty, and how it will alter the way they are perceived by society. For the young male protagonist, he will have to give up certain freedoms and adopt the veil.
The Birthday skilfully provides a balanced yet fascinating portrait of schizophrenic lives in a schizophrenic environment. It offers a window into a world rarely seen, a uniquely liberal perspective in the midst of a fundamentally religious Islamic order.
The DOCNZ Festival 2007 is in Auckland from 27th September until 10th October, Dunedin 11-21st October, Christchurch 25th October to 4th November, and Wellington 8th until 21st November.
The trailer for the Opening Night film 'The 11th Hour' appears below. GayNZ.com - 28th September 2007