A screenshot of Miss Gay Western Cape contestants in the documentary Glitterboys and Ganglands directed by Lauren Beukes, The documentary won best GLBT film at the San Diego Black Film Festival last week.

Avery Carpenter

A documentary about the Miss Gay Western Cape competition won best gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered (GLBT) film at The San Diego Black Film Festival last week.

Glitterboys and Ganglands, directed by Lauren Beukes, follows three hopefuls in the 2010 competition, chronicling their ups and downs, sobs and stilettos, beehives and bad hair days. Miss Gay Western Cape is the largest female impersonator competition in South Africa.

It takes place every year.

The flamboyant festival took place in Athlone.

“What struck us most about filming the documentary was that the contestants were mainly from very poor backgrounds and conservative households,” said the producer Matthew Brown. “They found their way.”

The film is billed as being set “deep in the heart of the Cape’s most violent ganglands”.

The juxtaposition of hairstyle and street style is hard to miss.

Director Beukes said: “Winning in San Diego is fantastic because it means an international audience identified with our story.

“The Miss Gay Western Cape contestants often struggle with a society that does not accept them, so it’s important that one of the oldest film festivals in America has come out in support.”

Glitterboys & Ganglands had sold out screenings at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival and Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival last year, receiving rave reviews.

Brown said that some of the contestants were always in costume, a group he identified as the “24/7s,” while others only exhibited their alter-egos during the competition.

The winner, Kat Gilardi, was “the most glamorous one out of the group,” said Brown.

Beukes is a TV screenwriter and award-winning author of Zoo City.

Glitterboys & Ganglands is her first documentary.

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