The producers of Inxeba’ (The Wound) served a lawsuit on Saturday, 24 February through its attorneys Webber Wentzel, seeking an urgent interdict overturning the reclassification of the film by the Film and Publication Board.
Last week, the Film and Publication Board Appeals Tribunal overturned the FPB's original classification rating of 16 LS and gave the film a rating of X18, classifying the film in the same category as hardcore pornography. Among the reasons for the reclassification, were the Appeals Tribunal’s finding that there was no “scientific, educational and artistic value” in the film. The new classification means that it can only be distributed from designated adult premises (sex shops), and forcing the immediate removal of the film from cinemas.
The tribunal was chaired by Christopher Mamathuntsha and included Professor AS Magwaza, Nonkoliso Sigcau, Manko Buffel, Lutendo Malada, Sizwe Snail Ka Mtuze, and Lihle Mapipa Ndlovu.
“Since there was no explanation on how the Tribunal reached this specific conclusion, it’s not easy to respond to it,” said Inxeba producer Cait Pansegrouw in a statement.
Pansegrouw added, “what I can say is that it would be difficult to argue that our film lacks artistic value, given that it has won 20 awards of excellence internationally and within South Africa. Harvard University, Oxford University, various South African tertiary institutions, and local movements such as Equal Education also have showed interest in including ‘Inxeba’ in their curriculums and programmes.”
Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution (which is responsible for distributing the film), noted with concern that while Contralesa Gauteng and The Man and Boy Foundation, both of which filed an appeal with the tribunal based on the perceived cultural insensitivity towards the Xhosa initiation tradition, requested a revised rating of 18, the Appeals Tribunal reclassified the film as X18. The two ratings are different.
“We find this ruling sinister, as the ‘X18’ rating was not requested by the appellants, and it cannot be reasonably justified by anyone who has seen the film,” explains Kuun.
Kuun said that the producers and their legal team are awaiting a response to their urgent interdict by Tuesday, 27 February and plan to be in court next week.
In the meantime, the producers and distributor are asking members of the public not to watch, circulate or buy pirated copies of the film, most of which have been making the rounds online since the film was initially taken off circuit.
Kuun promises that they are working hard to find legal avenues to make the film available to all those who want to see it due to an increased interest in the film following the drama surrounding it since before its release.
"Given the current rating of the film, it is also illegal and a criminal offence currently to view it anywhere, on any platform, either free or paid for. We are very encouraged by the support and enthusiasm of fans, but we urge patience while the legal process unfolds,” said Kunn.
The South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT) will be instituting legal procedures against any business or individual breaching the intellectual property rights held by ‘Inxeba’. And if you wish to report piracy, you are invited to send an email to [email protected]
Main image credit: Supplied