Simon & I

A film by Beverley Palesa Ditsie and Nicky Newman

South Africa | 2002 | 52 minutes | Color | VHS | Order No. 03812


SIMON & I is an intimate and inspiring portrait of black South African gay rights activist Simon Nkoli, who died of AIDS in 1998, and his fellow activist and protégé, Bev Ditsie. Chronicling two remarkable decades of activism, their story charts the history of the gay and lesbian liberation movement in South Africa and presents a personal account of the devastating AIDS epidemic in Africa. Bev unfolds their unique relationship using a mixed format of interviews, archival images and newspaper clips, while speaking honestly about the challenges they faced and the difficult issue of sexism within the gay rights movement. Their hard work and unyielding determination moved South Africa to become the only country in the world to include sexual orientation in its constitutional Bill of Rights. An homage to a great figure in the gay and lesbian rights movement, SIMON & I is equally a tribute to an enduring friendship and bond between two remarkable leaders.


“…an honest and revealing account, one that will speak volumes to anyone from countries where even the leaders, charged with protecting their citizens, unashamedly leave the door open for gay bashing.”

San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

“This poignant and deeply moving film bears witness to a country's struggle for equality -- and a friendship that transcends even death.”

Reel Affirmations Film Festival

“This wonderfully crafted film recounts the work and friendship of two groundbreaking AIDS activists…[and] expresses the sacrifice and dedication required to create change in an unchanging government.”

Chicago Gay & Lesbian Film Festival


  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
  • Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival
  • San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Chicago Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
  • Reel Affirmations Film Festival


Beverley Palesa Ditsie

Besides her well-documented career as a human rights activist, Soweto-born Beverley Palesa Ditsie, is also a musician, a writer and filmmaker.

She has been working in the television industry since the age of 10 as an actress, voiceover artist and presenter. In the past 14 years Bev has worked as a Director and Series Director on variety, educational and reality television shows such as Love Life's S'CAMTO GROUND BREAKER and GLOBAL, BIG BROTHER AFRICA, ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE and all the SURVIVOR SOUTH AFRICA seasons to date.

Her award-winning documentary film, SIMON & I, co-directed and produced by Nicky Newman of See Thru Media, is a moving and personal tale that spans 10 years of South Africa’s history, and has been screened worldwide as part of the Steps for the Future documentary series.

In addition, she has directed A FAMILY AFFAIR 56 min documentary for SABC 1; THE NELSON MANDELA BIOGRAPHY (24 minutes); THE RELEASE MANDELA CAMPAIGN (24 minutes); and BEYOND POSITIVE, a series of 10 documentaries (each 24 minutes long) on people living positively with HIV, screened on SABC 3.

She has also contributed stories and columns to various publications, such as Curve and Outright magazines, focusing on Human Rights, Gender Equality and HIV/AIDS.

She is currently in research and development for a number of feature length documentary films, as well as numerous other projects. (8/14)

Nicky Newman

South Africa native Nicky Newman is a documentary filmmaker and photographer. A graduate of South Africa’s prestigious Rhodes University, Newman has a degree in Journalism and Media Studies as well as an honours degree in Psychology. Newman spent some time after graduation living and working in both Hong Kong and London in the field of print media. Newman eventually decided to return to South Africa where she would pursue more visual media forms: upon her return, Newman founded the production company See Thru Media. During the last years of South Africa’s apartheid struggle, Newman learned the power of media to promote social change and frequently explores this power in her work. Newman has produced, directed, shot and edited a number of documentaries, educational programs, short films and music videos. Some of her documentary titles include "The Architecture of Fear," "Whole World Comes Out to Play" and "Across the Line." Until recently, Newman served as the Vice President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television. She is currently developing a script for a feature film and is working closely with the Maurits Binger Film Institute on the project. (07/12)


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