KANARIE | A Christiaan Olwagen feature film

Kanarie, Feature film


Johan Niemand is a fashion-loving gay teen in small-town South Africa in 1985, a time of apartheid, religious conservatism and war, an era when not even his idol Boy George had dared to come out publicly as gay yet. When Johan is called up to serve his compulsory two-year military training, he escapes the border war by joining The South African Defence Force Church Choir and Concert Group, known as Die Kanaries (The Canaries), where he discovers his true self through hardship, camaraderie, first love and the liberating freedom of music.

It stars stand-up comic, presenter and SAFTA and two-time Comics’ Choice winner Schalk Bezuidenhout.

Writer/director Christiaan Olwagen won the 2019 SAFTA for Best Script, and the Best Director award at Silwerskermfees for Kanarie. He’s won numerous other awards for his films Poppie Nongena, Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie and the Afrikaans film adaptation of Anton Chekhov's classic play, The Seagull. 

Kanarie was recently nominated in the category Outstanding Film - Limited Release for the 31st GLAAD Media Awards, which recognise outstanding representations of the LGBT community.

Indiewire named Kanarie one of the 14 Best LGBTQ International Films of 2018, while The Los Angeles Times praised it as a “rich, poignant and finely observed musical-drama” and The Hollywood Reporter as “a winning combination of thoughtfulness and exuberance.”


:: Winner of 15 international awards 
:: Nominated in the category Outstanding Film - Limited Release for the 2020 GLAAD Media Awards 
:: 100% critics rating, Rotten Tomatoes 
:: Best Script, South African Film and Television Awards, 2019 
:: Best Film, Silwerskerm, 2018 
:: Best Director (Christiaan Olwagen), Silwerskerm, 2018 
:: Best Supporting Actor (Germandt Geldenhuys), Silwerskerm, 2018 
:: Best Editing (Eva du Preez), Silwerskerm, 2018 
:: Best Production Design (Rocco Pool), Silwerskerm, 2018
:: 14 Best LGBTQ International Films of 2018, Indiewire