Local movie ‘Inxeba’ (The Wound) will be returning to cinemas in South Africa, at least temporarily, after the movie’s X-rating was overturned. A high court review into the matter is pending. The North Gauteng High Court overturned the Film and Publication (FPB) Board Appeals Tribunal rating of the movie yesterday (March 6).
The producers of Inxeba appealed the movie’s reclassification by the FPB Appeals Tribunal, a separate entity to the FPB’s board and council. The classification was moved from 16 language & sex to X-18 – the same classification as pornography. The temporary return to cinemas is being hailed as a victory over censorship. The Board disagreed with the Tribunal’s decision to reclassify Inxeba as an X-rated movie.
Inspired by a novel written by Thando Mgqolozana, the movie depicts the lives of teenage Xhosa men and their adult caretakers observing the ancient coming-of-age Xhosa tradition called Ulwaluko. In particular it focuses on three men and the homosexual relationship they share between them. A New York Times review described the unfolding events in the movie as “austere and unsettling”.
The movie was met with outrage by many within the Xhosa community and some called for the movie’s outright ban. Other than the depiction of same-sex love it was criticized as a betrayal of a sacred rite of passage in Xhosa culture, which is often described as a deeply personal experience not to be disclosed to outsiders.
Supporters of Inxeba and the South African LGBT+ community argue that the outrage is homophobic and that the subsequent censorship through the change in rating allowed for homophobia to win. Furthermore the rating or censorship of Inxeba was described as going against the freedom of expression enshrined within the South African constitution.
Listen to the debate about what the reclassification of #Inxeba means when considering the constitutional rights of all South Africans. Eusebius McKaiser unpacks this with Freedom of Expression Activist, Sekoetlane Phamodi.https://t.co/zCIMHZAgIp
— Inxeba (The Wound) (@TheWound_SAfilm) March 3, 2018
Despite the freedoms and protections the LGBT+ enjoy in South Africa, the country is still mired in homophobia, which more often than not manifests itself in violence against the LGBT+. A few young people who identified as lesbian or gay were brutally murdered in confirmed hate crimes. For all its advancements as a “rainbow nation”, South Africa has a very long way to go in dispelling the underlying hatred that seems to permeate modern South African society; whether it be homophobia or racism.