X-rated ban on Inxeba (The Wound) lifted by Pretoria High Court

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JOHANNESBURG, March 6 – The controversial Xhosa initiation film ‘Inxeba’ (The Wound) was ‘unbanned’ by the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday and will be back on mainstream cinema screens as of Friday, March 9.

“I am hopeful that the capitulation of The Tribunal, Contralesa Gauteng and the Man and Boy Foundation to remove the X rating will assist in ensuring that the violent acts performed in opposition to the film are brought to an end, and that members of the public who wish to exercise their right to engage with ‘Inxeba’ are no longer prohibited from doing so,” said producer Cait Pansegrouw.

The Film and Publication Board overturned their 16SL rating last month and reclassified ‘Inxeba’ to X18 which is the same rating as a pornographic film that can’t be viewed in cinemas.

In the court application on Tuesday, Webber Wentzel, on behalf of the film producers, requested a review of the decision of the Film and Publication Board’s (FPB) Appeal Tribunal which gave ‘Inxeba’ a rating of X18SNLVP overturning the FBP rating of 16 LS, essentially classifying the film as hardcore pornography.

The urgent application also sought an urgent interim court order allowing the film to be screened in mainstream cinemas for the first time since its initial commercial release on February 2, which was followed by the ‘effective banning’ of the film by the Appeals Tribunal ten days later, pending a review.

Contralesa Gauteng, The Man and Boy Foundation and the FPB’s Appeals Tribunal all opposed the application lodged by Webber Wentzel on behalf of the producers and distributor. All opposing parties eventually capitulated on the question of urgent interim relief and the court then granted an urgent interim order instructing the film to be screened pending a thorough review of the Appeal’s Tribunal decision.

The X rating, with immediate effect, has been removed from the 18 classifications by the High Court, while it awaits affidavits of representation from all affected parties both pro and in opposition to the decision of the Appeals Tribunal. The review is scheduled to be heard on March 28.

Director John Trengove also responded to the court order: “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.”

“To say we knew we’d be justified wouldn’t be doing justice to ourselves or the country,” added co-producer Batana Vundla. “The winner here is our constitution and the recognition of the lived experiences of LGBTIQ South Africans.”

Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution, urged cinemagoers to stand against piracy and illustrate their solidarity with freedom of speech for artists by going to watch ‘Inxeba’ in theatres from Friday:  “We are vindicated by the court order against a Tribunal ruling which was simply unlawful and could not reasonably be justified by anyone who has seen ‘Inxeba’. Now that we have secured legal means by way of a Court Order to make the film available to all those who want to see it publicly, we urge fans to go out there and show their support by seeing it in cinemas.”

– African News Agency (ANA)