Curzon Home Cinema | Oliver Hermanus | 2020
Moffie is set in 1981 apartheid South Africa among young men undertaking national service training and in a conflict zone at the Angolan border. Oliver Hermanus’s film gazes upon and scrutinizes these men. Who survives, physically or emotionally, and who doesn’t? Some survive by destroying others, some destroy themselves. Moffie is about masculinity: martial, macho, toxic or failed masculinity. It is also about bodies, and beauty, and desire, and pain.
Nicholas van der Swart is an outsider. English (despite the surname) among Afrikaners, silent among conscripts lobbing racist abuse, tender among the hard men around him all his life, and mute among the men fantasizing about sexual conquests. Nic survives by following another queer man’s advice: ‘do whatever you can to stay invisible’. He does, but in so doing is compromised and flawed, changed by the violence he sees around him and enacts on others.
- Dr Justin Bengry, Course Convenor for MA Queer History at Goldsmiths