Inxeba, the critically acclaimed South African film of 2018 , is back in theaters! The Film and Publication Board (FPB) Appeals Tribunal reclassified the original 16LS rating to X18, thus censoring it from commercial viewing. However, the North Gauteng High Court has temporarily lifted the ban, bringing the film back to the public domain.
Mixed reactions to this news is no surprise. Where many are joyous, others remain outraged. The film is beautiful in its depiction of navigating the journey of Xhosa initiation, its cinematography, and the excellence of its cast. At the same time, being amazed or moved by the film comes with a bitter reminder that homosexuality is scorned in “South Africa our land.”
The hypocrisy of Inxeba having to rise
Equality is supposedly enshrined in South Africa’s celebrated constitution. However, this didn’t stop the FPB Appeals Tribunal from listing Inxeba as X18, citing, among other points, that the film carried no, “scientific, educational and artistic value.” This statement is homophobia in its most dangerous form. Inxeba is a work of art. One’s dislike towards homosexuality, should not be cause enough to prevent the film from its rightful place in theaters.
For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the overruling of the X18 reclassification is a win. It means that their voices have equal recognition in society. At present, the courts are only scheduled to hear this case in a month, meaning Inxeba is not off the hook yet. However, this story coming back to the cinemas is a win.
It’s a proud moment for every person who fell outside heteronormative society feeling like they didn’t have a right to the space.
Unfortunately, the return of Inxeba has also ushered the return of homophobic internet trolls. Where they were once quietly incensed, they are making a mess of social media once again. Then again, it may be foolish to think they ever quietened down in the first place. Coupled with their arrival is an added layer of anxiety.
The burning question of whether or not the Inxeba producers will have their fair “day in court.”
Movie goers deserve the option to see this film. They also deserve the right to do so without fear of persecution at cinemas. Young, Xhlosa, gay men deserve to see a film where they could potentially feel represented. Hopefully the courts remember that when presiding over this case.
Until then, there is evidence throughout African history that homosexuality was NOT a western import. Maybe the narrative should be that homophobia may have been the import instead. Maybe its time to introspect into why other would be so concerned with another person’s sex life…hmm? Food for thought.