A last minute attempt by traditional leaders to stop the return of the controversial movie Inxeba (The Wound) to cinemas failed in the early hours of this morning.
The National House of Traditional Leaders made an urgent late-night application before the Pretoria High Court on Thursday to prevent the film from being screened in cinemas from today, and to reinstate the X18 classification made by the Film and Publication Board’s Appeals Tribunal.
However, the Court refused to change the interim relief order it made on 6 March and the film is back on mainstream cinema screens again from today, Friday, 9 March.
“They (the filmmakers) have a right to have persons examine and appreciate or feel otherwise about the product of their artistic endeavours.” ruled Judge N Tuchten. “The public has a right in general to see a publication of this nature, particularly one which has received acclaim; each member of the public has a right to examine this film and consider whether or not he or she agrees with the views that have been expressed.”
Webber Wentzel attorney Dario Milo, representing the film’s producers and distributors, said that he and his clients are pleased with this second victory.
“In our view this application was an attempt at a prior restraint on speech, dressed up as a complaint that the applicant had not been joined in the application to set aside the Appeals Tribunal’s decision,” he commented. “The law is now firmly against prior restraints on speech, and all the more so in this case where the urgent court had already ordered that the film could be screened from today.”
A decision must still be made by the High Court as to the film’s final rating. The review of the Appeals Tribunal’s decision to classify the film as X18 is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, 28 March.
Contralesa president Kgosi Mokoena is determined to stop the film from being shown. “There is no way we will allow our culture to be used as an ATM where people are going to make money or where people are expecting to be nominated for Oscars and other awards simply by ridiculing and showing bad things about our culture,” he told EWN.
In the meantime, Inxeba is currently screening in 12 cinemas countrywide, with the distributor planning to add more locations next week.
All opposing parties (and the House of Traditional Leaders) have at various instances raised the possibility of violence that may emerge as a result of the existence of the film.
“We have asked repeatedly that the opposing parties call an end to violence on basis of their authority, so that the matter can be handled with appropriate legal fora in keeping with constitutional and legal guarantees to expression, safety and security,” said producer Cait Pansegrouw.
Helen Kuun of Indigenous Film Distribution added: “Those opposed to the film are free to exercise their rights to oppose or disagree with the film or the screening thereof, all we ask is that this is done within the parameters of the law and peacefully.”