Runs in the Family is a South African queer film about the relationship between a man and his transgender son
In a win for African LGBTQ+ representation and filmmaking, new queer movie Runs in the Family secured the prestigious Best South African Feature award at the recent Durban International Film Festival.
Directed by the real-life father-son filmmaking duo of Ian and Gabe Gabriel, the film is a modern family dramedy that addresses themes of identity, representation, and belonging.
Runs in the Family follows the heartwarming journey of Varun (Ace Bhatti), a humble tailor and single Indian father, and his transmasculine son, River (Gabe Gabriel), as they embark on a road trip across South Africa.
Their mission is to liberate River’s estranged mother, Monica (Diaan Lawrenson), from a rehab clinic.
However, when River’s drag partner sustains an injury, their paths take an unexpected turn. In a bid to secure gender-affirming surgery for River, the duo partners up for a drag competition.
“Our audiences and industry are ready and willing to celebrate unapologetically queer stories…”
The film draws inspiration from Gabe’s own experiences as a trans man in South Africa and incorporates elements from Ian’s youth in Hillbrow.
Gabe, who previously directed SA’s first gay rom-com, 2021’s No Hiding Here, shared his excitement about the film’s success with MambaOnline.
“The fact that a film about a brown South African dad who loves and supports his transgender son won an award at one of the most prestigious festivals on the African content is a great big sign that our audiences and industry are ready and willing to celebrate unapologetically queer stories made by queer creatives,” said Gabe.
“Not only do I feel extremely grateful to our incredible cast and crew and the festival itself,” he added, “but I also feel encouraged to keep pushing for more support for South African queer film and for more meaningful representation both in front of and behind the camera.”
Runs in the Family is poised to captivate audiences globally, with screenings planned at various festivals. The film is anticipated to be available for streaming in South Africa hopefully later this year.
Meanwhile, the father-son duo remain dedicated to their creative partnership, as they collaborate on an upcoming film centred on the life of the late trans disco icon, Granny Lee.
This triumph of Runs in the Family not only acknowledges the exceptional storytelling of Ian and Gabe Gabriel but also underscores the growing appetite for meaningful queer film and representation in the world of cinema.