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  • Writer's pictureSandra Caganoff

Bertha House and The Radical

Last night I met a friend to go see a documentary, The Radical. She’d texted me to say meet at Bertha House, and so I plugged it into my GPS and off I went. I didn’t know where I was going, I just wanted to see the doccie and a friend.

Well, what a surprise. I pulled up to Bertha House, Main Road in Mowbray, and a gem awaited me. It’s kind of unassuming from the outside, and then, wow. A beautifully designed space with different open areas, a Bioscope, a modern library, plants tended with great love and care, co-working spaces, couches covered in Sheshwe and an eatery with a fantastic small menu and really good coffee.

There was an interesting and diverse crowd, hello South Africa, milling around, eating popcorn, talking movies and art. The people running the place were friendly, engaging and so welcoming. It is a centre that I immediately felt comfortable in.

The documentary we saw was about a queer Imam, Muhsin Hendricks, who grew up in a small, conservative Muslim community in Cape Town. It follows his life journey and looks at what it is like to be queer and Muslim, not just in South Africa but in the world. Muhsin started the Al-Ghurbaah Foundation a safe space for queer Muslims, like him, struggling with The Quran, faith, sexuality and acceptance.

Al-Ghurbaah means ‘The Strangers.'

The Radical is a sad, beautiful, hopeful and important piece of film making. There was a Q&A at the end, with Hendricks and the director, Richard Gregory. I did whisper to my friend that I thought the Q&A was a bit long and she replied saying 'Yes, because people are really moved.'

It was incredibly moving.

Bertha House blew me away. It is a space for collaboration, creation, learning and storytelling, and a space for people to visit, explore, hang out, work and unite. It feels like a celebration of Africa. And the eatery is called the food-justice hub, a perfect name!

Bertha House showcases documentaries once a month, part of DocLove. I'm definitely gonna go. You can sign up for DocLove newsletters here. And follow Bertha House on Instagram.

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