The Goat | South Africa
Dir: John Trengove
Curated by Future Shorts
The Goat is a short film that was born out of research I was doing on Ukwaluka, an ancient and widely practiced coming-of-age ritual in South Africa. Xhosa boys between the ages of 16 and 19 are ritually circumcised (without anaesthetic) and taken to the ‘mountain’, a painful 3 week period of isolation where they are cared for and mentored by older men from their communities.
The ritual is considered the most important milestone in a Xhosa man’s life and, sometimes, a cure for homosexuality. I have heard reports of initiates who were thought to be gay who have faced severe neglect or abandonment during this very difficult time. The Goat portrays a young initiate who is abandoned because of his sexuality and is left with no one but his young brother to care for him.
Many gay men who have completed the initiation are forced to either live in the closet or move away from their communities altogether. Throughout Africa, the perception that homosexuality is un-African is gaining ground. In rural and impoverished communities in particular, homosexuals often face discrimination, persecution and abuse.
The Goat, as well as my upcoming feature film The Wound, shed light on the uncomfortable intersection between same-sex desire and traditional culture.