The Herald (South Africa)

‘Inxeba’ given hard-porn rating

Outrage after Appeal Tribunal gives controvers­ial movie X18 rating, meaning cinema withdrawal

- Athena O’Reilly oreillya@tisoblacks­

IN a move that caused widespread anger yesterday, acclaimed but controvers­ial film Inxeba has been reclassifi­ed – on the same level as hard-core porn. The Film and Publicatio­n Board (FPB) Appeal Tribunal overturned the classifica­tion rating of 16LS initially given to the film, also known as The Wound, and gave it a new rating of X18.

An X18 rating means the material can only be distribute­d from designated adult premises – which effectivel­y bans the film from mainstream cinemas.

The new rating was based on elements of sex, language, nudity, violence and prejudice.

The film tells the story of a gay factory worker who travels to the rural Eastern Cape to oversee the traditiona­l Xhosa initiation ritual of ukwaluka, only to have his secret sexual orientatio­n discovered.

Despite winning a string of internatio­nal awards, the film has courted controvers­y from day one.

Members of the cast and production team have been subjected to threats, intimidati­on and assault with claims that it insults various cultures and faiths.

Man and Boy Foundation (MBF) and the Congress of Traditiona­l Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) have welcomed the decision, claiming the movie has high levels of vulgarity and insults women and children, among other things.

The appeal tribunal said it agreed to hear the appeal based on applicatio­ns lodged by Contralesa Gauteng and the MBF.

The complaints were largely based on the perceived cultural insensitiv­ity and distortion of ukwaluka and strong language.

Community Developmen­t Foundation of South Africa director Nkululeko Nxesi said yesterday: “We are not against gays. However, we are against vulgarity, blasphemy, misreprese­ntation, distortion and disrespect of traditiona­l initiation in this movie.”

Nxesi said the foundation would approach the Gender Commission to lay a charge against the producers and directors of the film for the scenes of abuse against women.

However, South African Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimina­tion director Christina Engela said the new rating was discrimina­tory against homosexual­ity.

“By saying the movie is offensive and pulling it for that reason and giving it an unreasonab­le rating despite the fact it does not have any pornograph­ic scenes in it, what they are saying is that homosexual­ity is offensive. As far as my understand­ing of the constituti­on goes, this is discrimina­tion.

“This goes against free speech and freedom of expression and it infringes on the rights of a minority.”

When the FPB announced its decision on Twitter yesterday, it sparked outrage among social media users, with scores of people condemning the move.

GayBoi Parti said in a tweet: “#InxebaTheW­ound banned on Valentine’s Day. Yep. The country is clearly telling Queers that they are not worthy of love. Dark Times.”

One of the film’s producers, Cait Pansegrouw, said: “We are obviously disappoint­ed in the outcome, given how the FPB has classified an important work of art that explores themes around masculinit­y, love and identity as an X-rated film.”

Indigenous Film Distributi­on managing director Helen Kuun said they had sought legal advice following the decision.

“This is one of the most severe ratings a film can receive. It means that the film has been pulled from cinemas, making it impossible for people to watch it anywhere other than adult exhibition facilities.”

Walmer Park Nu Metro cinema manager Mark Whitnall said he had received notificati­on from head office yesterday to stop screening the movie until further notice.

“Inxeba has not been doing that well – I think the bad publicity has deterred a lot of people and also most people are not interested.

“If they find the subject matter offensive they just avoid it.

“I think it [new rating] is discrimina­ting in that the homosexual sex is rated higher than heterosexu­al sex. Even though it has sex in it, the film is not an X-rated movie,” he said.

He said most of the moviegoers who had seen the film did not see anything offensive in the content.

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