The release of the award-winning movie last Friday sparked boycotts, and screenings were cancelled for “security reasons” by Nu Metro Cinemas at Canal Walk and Walker Park in Port Elizabeth.
The movie was shot entirely in isiXhosa and depicts a story of unrequited love between two initiates in an initiation school setting.
On social media, local celebrity and musician Loyiso Bala took a clear stance towards the screening and said that the film has ridiculed the isiXhosa culture. He received a backlash from people who said he chose to stick to culture and tradition when it suited him.
“The release of Inxeba totally ridicules and disrespects the wishes and traditions of the Xhosa culture. If we, as a country, cannot protect our own cultural beliefs and differences, no one else will do it for us Why when it comes to our own traditions, we can’t give each other the same respect? #BanInxeba,” said Bala.
Responding to the backlash, director of the film John Trengove asked why people were protesting the film. “Who are these men protesting #Inxeba? It’s just a film! Where are they when women and children are raped in our communities? Where are they when gays and lesbians are murdered in our streets? Shame on them for wasting time protesting a film when there is real work to be done.”
In a radio interview, National Film and Video Foundation head Zama Mkosi clarified their stance regarding the screening of the controversial film and said that there were heated discussions on what should or should not happen to the film.
The result of the discussions was to add a disclaimer to the beginning of the film saying that the film was "not a depiction of reality".
Mkosi said: “The disclaimer appears with every film but what we had agreed to do was with the agreement of the film makers, to move the disclaimer from the end. I am sure many moviegoers have seen it, the one that says ‘This is not a depiction of true events and reflection is a mere coincidence’, and moved it to the front of the film.
“However, the CRL Commission (Commission for the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities) went further and was requesting us to put all these other additional disclaimers about the lives in the film and the details, which we indicated very clearly that it is a complete overreach.”
Mkosi condemned the recent protest action at various cinemas and said that as a government entity, the film was rated by The Film and Publication Board.
The violent protest action was further condemned by DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said: “We appreciate the strong views of those against the airing of the film. However, in debates such as these the values that underpin the exercise of our hard-won constitutional rights should always be the guiding and determining principle. The film does not in any way curtail the exercise of cultural rights. Nor has it in any way ridiculed or disrespected the practice of ulwaluko."