Fig Trees

DIRECTOR: John Greyson
Canada 2009 104min

JHB Sat 5th / 9pm + GUEST Wed 9th / 8.30pm + GUEST Fri 11th / 9pm
CT Fri 11th / 8.15pm + GUESTS Mon 14th / 6.15pm Fri 18th / 6.30pm

A contemporary opera based on the activist lives of Zackie Achmat and Canadian Tim McCaskell, Greyson’s intense magnus opus is experimental theatre at its most formidable. Greyson’s film, with music by David Wall, takes a Derek Jarman-esque look at the history of the anti-retroviral wars. He borrows Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson (who together created the avant-garde opera Four Saints in Three Acts in 1934) and has them attempt to create a new opera around the lives of these two latter-day ‘saints’. The Victorian duo hunt for Achmat and McCaskell, tripping happily through genres, time, musical forms and cinematic devices, only to be ultimately confounded when neither Achmat nor McCaskell deign to do like all good saints and die. The tone is irreverent, even as the message and history of antiretroviral politics (through peppered interviews) is deadly serious. Indeed, the film will be remembered as much for its visual richness – the arresting montage, photography and use of text in shot – as for the music and story.

Canadian High CommissionGreyson is a guest of the Festival, courtesy of the Canadian High Commission. He will conduct Q&As after certain screenings in Jozi and CT (See programme for details).


Check out the trailer on the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival: http://www.bfi.org.uk/llgff/fig_trees_0

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  • Berlin International Film Festival 2009 Teddy Award – Best Documentary
  • Toronto Inside Out L&G Film & Video Festival 2009 – Best Canadian Film/Video