Beauty is only skin deep


The multi-award winning new South African film, Skoonheid (Beauty), is a first in that sex is portrayed in a manner never before seen in theatrically released Afrikaans language films.

One scene in the film contains explicit visuals of a man masturbating in a pornographic film on a TV screen. Just after this scene is established, the camera pans to burly, hairy farmer-like men participating in a lustful homosexual orgy. In another scene a man is viciously raped.

The writer of the screenplay and director of the film, Oliver Hermanus, says that this scene is a mirror of reality. He notes that the characters in the scene are in stark contrast to most films with a gay theme which usually contain good looking men.

“I did not want to use the normal media images of gay men,’ states Hermanus. “In this instance I wanted to show the feelings of real people in real situations. There are men who would never acknowledge that they have homosexual feelings. It was my intention to explore this aspect in the main character, Francois, played by Deon Lotz.’

From the outset Hermanus knew that the film would receive a high age restriction (18 SV) from the Film and Publications Board. Low age restrictions mean more bums on seats and therefore better box office income. This was not a concern for Hermanus. “Skoonheid is a film about reality. I want the public to view the film with an open mind and see the real world,’ he says.

Most of the dialogue in the film is in Afrikaans (with English subtitles.) “If the dialogue was in English, it might have influenced the box office, but I decided that it must be in Afrikaans as the plot plays itself out in Bloemfontein. I also chose Bloemfontein as the setting because I am familiar with the area and its people,’ explains Hermanus.

The film centres on the middle aged Francois who develops a dangerous obsession with his daughter’s boyfriend, Christian. Francois struggles to suppress his sexual needs and is disgusted with the way Christian has him in his power.

“I’m sure that I might receive a flood of criticism about the subject matter but I’m not scared of controversy. My next film, a period work focusing on the disciple Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ, is going to be even more controversial,’ adds Hermanus. (by Jakkie Groenewald)


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