Breaking Out of the Box

Project Type
  • Documentary
  • Film
Running Time 40 Minutes
Release Date October 23, 2011
Produced by:

Fort Greene Filmworks, Left Hand Films, Fat Elvis Films & Forum For The Empowerment For Women

Production Team:

Directed By: Busi Kheswa & Zethu Matebeni
Produced By: Shareen Anderson, Lisa Henry, and Taku Kaskela
Director Of Photography: Shareen Anderson
Script: Lisa Henry
Editor: Taku Kaskela
Final Audio Mix: Shawn Smith
Online Editor: Taku Kaskela

Buhle Msibi’s poem I Break The Boxes provides the title for this wide-ranging, touching, often funny documentary highlighting the lives of black lesbians in South Africa. The title is appropriate; by telling the tales of six high profile women, the sheer breadth of experience in the black lesbian community is revealed, the profiled women all having redefined their set parameters in one way or another. They are a well-thought out mix of voices and bear compelling witness to an epoch that has seen gay rights go from zero to hero. There are the mother figures; Mary Hames of UWC’s Gender Equity Unit and Dr Yvette Abrahams of the Gender Commission for Gender Equality, who set the scene with stories of the anti-apartheid activism years (and falling hopelessly in love). The traditional leader, Fikile Vilakazi of the Coalition of African Lesbians, an eloquent spokesperson on gay rights, offers a compelling argument against the gay-is-white argument; “If you say being gay is not African then you insult me, because you are saying I am not African”. Another strong voice is Theresa Raizenberg, activist and film buff, who remembers the early ABIGAIL years and was one of the founders of the Out In Africa Film Festival, and the changes since. The youth is represented by Jozi FM DJ Fino Dlamini and soccer star Portia Modise, both completely out and succeeding in their largely male-dominated fields. A warm, compelling and satisfyingly affirming film.

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