Although Inxeba (The Wound) isn't in the running for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, it impressed at prominent festivals across the globe.
Most international critics have been singing the praises of this dexterously directed movie by first-time director John Trengove.
Aside from South Africans - and everyone associated with the film - being on tenterhooks around all that Oscar buzz, the delicate subject matter has angered traditional leaders.
So let’s address the elephant in the room. I got to watch this movie at the 2017 Silverskerm Festival. Yes, it looks at the annual ulwaluko initiation ceremony within the Xhosa community. This long-standing tradition has always been a private affair, until now.
The circumcision aspect of the narrative is handled in a very tasteful manner. Besides, it isn’t the focal point of the storytelling, which focuses on the forbidden romance between caregivers Xolani (Touré) and Viya (Mantsai).
Xolani is a blue-collar worker. Meanwhile, Viya is married and comes across as a very macho guy.
While at initiation camp, these two frequently steal time away to rekindle their taboo affair.
Kwanda, an outspoken youngster dealing with his sexuality, is left under Xolani’s care.
At first, Xolani takes Kwanda, who is deemed an outcast by the other village boys at camp because he comes from an affluent suburban family, under his wing. But then Xolani finds himself in a catch-22 situation after the teenager catches him and his lover in a compromising position.
The events that follow are laden with myriad emotions from love, guilt to jealousy.
Inxeba (The Wound) is beautifully cast, with every actor playing their role with commendable conviction.
Another triumph for the movie is the rustic environment in which it is set.
As much as this riveting movie provides insight, it also raises an awareness around a subject matter that’s most relevant in societies which are wounded by their prejudices!