A screengrab from film the film Inxeba.
Cape Town - Traditional leaders have called for the movie Inxeba: The Wound to be banned and for film-makers to issue a public apology for portraying their traditions as “barbaric”.

This comes as controversy continues to surround the film a week after it was released in theatres across the country.

On Tuesday the film-makers will meet with the Film and Publication Board for a hearing following several complaints from different organisation opposed to the movie.

The Commission for the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities also made representations to the board based on complaints it received, requesting the age restriction be increased to 18.

The board rated the movie 16SLN last July.

The film, which tells the story of a love affair between two men during the Xhosa traditional initiation ceremony, has drawn a lot of criticism from Xhosa people who say some of practices were shown in the film in a distorted and inaccurate way.

Several complaints have been lodged by different bodies and by the film-makers themselves.

Screening of the movie has been cancelled at some cinemas. There have been threats of violence against the crew members.

Managing director Helen Kuun said: “Safety and security measures have been taken by the producers with regards to threats to talent and a case has been lodged with police,” she said.

“The Human Rights Commission (has) acknowledged receipt of the complaint laid by the Inxeba film-makers and will investigate the matter.

“The appeal hearing with the board is taking place on February 13 and the outcome will be communicated to Indigenous Film Distribution by the tribunal soon thereafter. Should the rating be amended this will be instituted immediately by the distributor.”

But many traditional leaders said they would only be appeased by a ban on the movie.

Alfred Magwaca, a member of the Langa Heritage Foundation, said the unwritten rule around initiation had always been "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" and the film had broken that, coupled with a few distortions of practices.

“Some of us have seen the movie while others only saw snippets of it and it was disturbing. The young boys who have yet to go there are frightened by what they saw, thinking 'Is this what is going to happen to us?'

“Those are things that we never share with those who have yet to go and if they had done research first and portrayed the right thing, knew the boundaries around what to show and what not to show, we would have understood and not have had problems with it.

"But the problem is there was no thorough research and there are questions around where the writers got what they showed in the movie. As Xhosa men, we are not happy with it, we are completely against what is seen and depicted there.

“The homosexuality factor is another thing, at the bush there is nothing that happens with regards to homosexuals. We have had gays at the mountain and they were never treated the way this one was treated by the ikankatha (caretaker) in the movie.

"When we are there, we are teaching people ways of life, not that we are changing a person that is gay into not being gay, but at the end of the day it is that person’s choice. When they get to the mountain and see that there are no talks about homosexuality, we are there for a purpose - which is circumcision.

“But we are willing to sit down with the writers and discuss how they can make it right, but at the end of it the only thing that would make this okay is if they would retract the movie and issue and apology.”

Chairperson of the Council of Nguni People, Chief Lungelo Nokwaza, said while they condemned any threats of violence against the film-makers, it did not change their stance on the movie.

“If our culture was portrayed the right way, there would not be so much outrage, the depiction of some practices in there also portrays us to the world as barbaric people who beat up young boys; all sorts of things that are not true,” he added.

“When all of this is over, it should serve as an example to anyone else who would want to ridicule our culture for popularity. It will be dealt with.”

Weekend Argus