Inxeba returns to cinemas nationwide

Inxeba is a love story between two men set in an initiation school.

Inxeba is a love story between two men set in an initiation school.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the X-rating on the film Inxeba: The Wound can be lifted meaning the film can now be shown in local cinemas with an 18 age restriction pending court proceedings that have been postponed until March 28.

Earlier this month, the Film and Publication Board’s (FPB) Appeal Tribunal reclassified the film from a rating of 16LS to X18, which meant that Inxeba could not be screened at local cinemas. 

Dario Milo, a partner at Webber Wentzel attorneys who represented Inxeba, says the return of the film to theatres is a victory. 

While the film’s director John Trengrove agreed with Milo’s sentiments, he thinks an explanation for the decision to ban the film is still necessary. 

“Getting back onto screens in mainstream cinemas is a vindicated victory for the film, but the South African film and arts community still deserves to hear a real explanation of how The Tribunal arrived at such an embarrassing violation of our legal and constitutional rights in the first place. We look forward to more clarity on this score in the weeks to come.”

The reclassification was based partly on the argument that the film had “no artistic value” and “increased tensions”.

READ MORE: Rating ‘Inxeba’ as porn is artistic illiteracy

The major reason for the reclassification was expressed by The Man and Boy Foundation and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) who described the movie as an inaccurate depiction of Xhosa initiation and as revealing sacred traditional aspects.

Inxeba is a love story between two men set in an initiation school but both the foundation and Contralesa have denied being motivated by homophobia and insist that their issue with the film is that it misrepresents the practice of initiation.

READ MORE: ‘Inxeba wounds our cultural practice’

South Africa’s largest filmmaker the South African Screen Federation (Sasfed) joined the producers of Inxeba on Tuesday to overturn the film’s “porn rating”.

In a press statement, Sasfed’s spokesperson Rehad Desai said the rating “smacks of apartheid-era censorship” citing that Inxeba is far less explicit than BDSM cult trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey which is rated 16.

Sasfed said that they went to court to protect the freedom of expression.

“The unjustified censorship can have a chilling effect on the creation of any work that might be considered controversial. It also denies audience members the right to decide for themselves what they would like to see,” the statement read. 

Inxeba cast member Niza Jay is elated that the film is back in cinemas and hopes the censorship will spark conversations beyond media platforms into domestic spaces. 

“I hope that the conversation spurred by the film will go beyond being a hot topic and that it will be had in our homes, families and communities.  But we must always engage with it critically and not romanticise it, so that when bigots try to tyrannise our film industry, we do not fall into the trap of playing victim,” Jay said.

The film will be back on big screens nationwide on March 9 2018. 

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works with the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA. 
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