Directors: Gay–Hermanus, Oliver (South Africa)

Oliver Hermanus (born May 26, 1983) is a South African filmmaker and writer, who has helmed Shirley Adams (2009), Beauty (Skoonheid) (2011), and The Endless River (2015), and Moffie (2019)

His film Beauty won the Queer Palm Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

Hermanus was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and holds a B.A. in Film, Media, and Visual Studies from the University of Cape Town. He initially worked as a press photographer for the Cape Argus newspaper.

In 2006, he received a scholarship to attend the London Film School, where he earned his master’s degree in film.

Hermanus’s first film, Shirley Adams, in 2009, relates the story of a single mother raising her paraplegic son, who was injured during a gang fight. Hermanus got the idea from his sister, an occupational therapist, who told him the story of a teenage boy paralyzed in shooting incident.

Shirley Adams premiered at the Durban Film Fest in 2009 where it received awards for Best South African Film, Best First Film, and Best Actress for Denise Newman. The film was shown in competition at the Locarno and Toronto Film Fests. The film also won awards for Best Film and Best Director at the 2009 South African Film and Television Awards.

Beauty (known as Skoonheid in Afrikaans) was the fifth South African movie selected for competition at the Cannes Film Fest and the first in Afrikaans. The film won the 2011 Queer Palm Award for best picture, and Hermanus won the 2012 South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) for Best Director. Beauty was an Official Selection in the Un Certain Regard series at the 2011 Cannes Film Fest.

Beauty relates the story of François, a married closeted, middle-aged Afrikaner, who becomes obsessed with a handsome young lawyer, Christian (Charlie Keegan), the son of one of his friends. Critically praised for its unvarnished study of the turbulence of the middle-aged male psyche, the film was also noted for addressing the current Afrikaner condition.

The film’s original title, Skoonheid, means ‘beauty’ in Afrikaans but literally translates as ‘cleanliness.’ It’s a story about the ugly truth of confronting parts of yourself that you hate and try to suppress.”

Hermanus was guest of honor at “Side by Side,” an international festival of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender film held in Moscow in April 2011.

In 2015, Hermanus wrote and directed his third film, The Endless River, which became the first South African film to compete for the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Fest.

Set in the small town of Riviersonderend in the Overberg region of South Africa, it relates the story of a French expatriate and a small-town waitress who form a bond after the brutal murder of his family on a farm.

Hermanus explained, “I wanted to combine in my film a place I’m familiar with the story of violence happening in South Africa.”

Hermanus’s fourth film, Moffie, had its world premiere at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. The film is based on an autobiographical novel by South African writer André Carl van der Merwe, relating the author’s experiences serving in the South African military during the Apartheid-era war in Angola.

The lead character, Nicholas van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer), and fellow recruit Stassen (Ryan de Villiers), share a mutual attraction but must make their sexuality invisible to avoid being viciously humiliated and brutalized.

Hermanus plans to direct the film Living, set to star Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood. The screenplay, written by Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro, is an adaptation of the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru.