IFC Films has nabbed North American rights to South African Oliver Hermanus’ “Moffie,” a queer war film that is set against the backdrop of a South African border war. The indie studio will release the film in April 2021.
Hermanus directs the film and adapted the story from André Carl van der Merwe’s autobiographical 2006 novel with Jack Sidey. “Moffie” premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 2019. It was a homecoming of sorts for the director, whose previous feature, “The Endless River,” was the first South African film to be nominated for the Golden Lion.
“‘Moffie’ is a brilliant cinematic vision with a powerful message that will inspire audiences and critics alike,” Arianna Bocco, president of IFC Films, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to come on board with such an accomplished film and singular directorial voice.”
“Moffie” stars Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan de Villiers, Matthew Vey, Stefan Vermaak, and Hilton Pelser. The film is produced by Eric Abraham – producer of Oscar-winning films Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida,” and Sidey.
Here’s the official log-line: “Set in 1981 South Africa in the midst of Apartheid, the film centers on closeted 16-year-old Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) as he begins the two years of compulsory military service required of all young white South African men, preparing to defend the regime on the Angolan war front. The threat of communism and “die swart gevaar” (the so-called black danger) is at an all-time high. But that’s not the only danger Nicholas faces. He must survive the brutality of the army – something that becomes even more difficult when a connection is sparked between him and a fellow recruit.”
Variety critic Guy Lodge loved the film, calling the director “South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker” and writing that “Moffie” is a “masterpiece in the true sense of the term.”
The film has already been released in South Africa and in the U.K. and distribution rights to the film have been sold across Europe.
IFC has remained very active in 2020 despite the pandemic. The studio has released numerous movies, include “The Trip to Greece,” “True History of the Kelly Gang” and “How to Build a Girl.”
“It’s a fantastic privilege to have our film find such a wonderful American partner in IFC Films,” Hermanus said. “They house the work of many of the filmmakers I greatly admire, and I am thrilled that they have taken up an interest to share Moffie with an American audience.”
The deal for the film was negotiated by Bocco, with Rose Schwartz of NY legal firm Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell and Vassallo and independent consultant Julie Dansker acting on behalf of the filmmakers.