Queer cinema as a fifth cinema in South Africa and Australia

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2005
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Australia had the world’s first gay film festival at the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op in June 1976, part of a larger commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in New York City of 1969. In 1994, South Africa became the first country in the world to prohibit discrimination in its constitution on the basis of sexual orientation, whilst allowing for positive discrimination to benefit persons disadvantaged by unfair discrimination. South Africa and Australia, both ex-British colonies, are used in this analysis to explore the way local Queer Cinematic Cultures have negotiated and continue to negotiate dominant social forces in post-colonial settings. It is rare to have analyses of Queer Cinematic Cultures and even rarer to have texts dealing with cultures outside those of Euro-America. This study offers a unique window into the formations of Queer Cinematic Cultures of two nations of the ‘South’. It reveals important new information on how sexual minorities from nations outside the Euro-American sphere have dealt with and continue to deal with longstanding Queer cinematic oppressions. A pro-active relationship between Queer representation in film and social-political action is considered by academics such as Dennis Altman to be essential for significant social and judicial change. The existence of Queer and other independent films in Sydney from the 1960s onward, impacted directly on sexuality, race and gender activism. In South Africa, the first major Queer film festival, The Out In Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1994, was instrumental in developing and maintaining a post-Apartheid Queer public sphere which fostered further legal change. Given the significant histories of activism through Queer Cinematic Cultures in both Australia and South Africa, I propose in this thesis the existence of a new genus of cinema, which I term Fifth Cinema. Fifth Cinema includes Feminist Cinema, Queer Cinema and Immigrant/Multicultural Cinema and deals with the oppressions which cultures engage with within their own cultural boundaries. It can be informed by First Cinema (classical, Hollywood), Second Cinema (Art House or dual national cinemas), Third and Fourth Cinema (cinemas dealing with the decolonisation of Third World and Fourth World people), but it develops its unique characteristics by countering internal cultural colonisation. Fifth Cinema functions as a heterognosis, where multi-dimensional representations around sexuality, race and gender are used to assist in broader cultural liberation.
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