Why an Oscar-nominated South African film was rated as pornography

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SOUTH AFRICA’S official submission to the Oscars this year was a story of Xhosa youth “going to the mountain” to become men. The film, set at a traditional initiation school in the remote Eastern Cape, was shortlisted for the foreign-language category (alas, it didn’t make the final five) and has reaped awards at artsy festivals.

Back home, though, it is banned. “Inxeba” (The Wound) was pulled from mainstream cinemas in South Africa after a review board on February 14th re-classified it with the same rating given to pornographic films. Responding to complaints from traditional leaders, an appeals tribunal of the Film and Publication Board declared it could find no “artistic value” in “Inxeba” and warned that certain scenes could lead to “increased tensions in society”.

The film’s producers are now challenging this decision in court, pointing out that the restrictive X18 rating is meant for depictions of explicit sex and close-ups of genitals. Neither is found in “Inxeba”. The stink of censorship has…Continue reading

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