In Proteus, gay Canadian director John Greyson and South African activist Jack Lewis tell an interracial gay love story set in South Africa and Amsterdam in the early 18th century. Rijkhaart Jacobsz, a white Dutch sailor, and Claas Blank, a Hottentot servant, were imprisoned on Cape Town’s Robben Island between 1718 and 1735.
Jack Lewis stumbled upon the original transcript of Jacobsz and Blank’s trial for sodomy and knew he had a little-known true story with contemporary ramifications. The story also revolves around the quest by closeted Scottish botanist Virgil Niven who, whilst working for famous Swedish botanist Linnaeus, tried to name and cultivate all the sub-species of the South African plant once known as sugarbush and now identified as Protea.
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Directed by: Jack Lewis, John Greyson
With: Neil Sandilands, Rouxnet Brown, Shaun Smyth
Country: Canada, South Africa
Year of Production: 2003
Running Time: 97 minutes