SA film for Berlinale Panorama

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The Glow of White Women, Yunus  Vally’s  provocative film about a nice Muslim boy, miscegeny and sexual mores in modern South Africa has been selected for the Berlin Film Festival Panorama section premiering on 14 February at 17.00pm followed by Friday, 15 February at 13.00am, which will include a Q&A. 

The Glow Of White Women is a frank, funny and slyly subversive account of Vally’s life from a child in a sleepy Afrikaans town who spent every afternoon in the madressah, to a young man in post-apartheid South Africa where all the rules have been rewritten.

The film is inventively put together using images from vintage magazines, the covers of pulp fiction novels, anatomical drawings and family photographs as well as archive news footage, South African tourism promotional films and commercials for skin whitening creams. This fast-paced succession of images is matched by an equally imaginative sound track incorporating everything from Cole Porter to a reinterpreted version of the Marie Osmond hit “Paper Roses’.

Interviewees include Evita Bezuidenhout, the radical drag queen who will be running for president of South Africa in 2009; Charlene Smith, the South African journalist who entered into a public debate with President Mbeki over black male sexuality after she was raped at knifepoint in her own home and Vally’s former white lovers.

He traces a path through his life which leads from his early fantasies about the lure of white women pictured in magazines to his obsession with Anneline Kriel, Miss South Africa and Miss World in 1974. A decade later, in 1984, the year South Africa repealed the Immorality Act (which forbade sexual relations between the races) Yunus Vally got himself to Yeoville, Johannesberg – a place of sexual and political freethinkers and declared himself a Trotskyite. “You had to be clever, radical, brilliant and the white girls would come running’, he says.

Although it’s a highly personal take Yunus Vally’s story provides a snapshot of how a whole generation of South Africans – both black and white – have been shaped by the past and the pull it still has on their present.

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