Banned South African film on sexual abuse creates buzz

Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:32am EDT
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By Jon Herskovitz

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A low-budget movie no one in South Africa is allowed to see has become the most talked-about film of the year.

For the first time since apartheid ended in 1994, regulators banned a local feature film, saying the movie "Of Good Report" contained child pornography. This halted its screening this month at the Durban International Film Festival.

The film's director and movie critics have likened the ban to apartheid-era censorship, saying the film, which examines the abuse of girls by older men, hit a nerve in a country where patriarchal rule dominates wide sections of society.

The ban has raised worries about self-censorship in the local industry, where film-makers battle for scant funding for films that often take on tough questions about race, sexuality and the damage caused by apartheid.

"There is this branch of very brave film-makers who are making remarkable works and often they are deeply uncomfortable works. This is something that South Africans have become particularly good at," said Peter Machen, art critic and manager of the Durban film festival.

The Film and Publication Board, a government-affiliated regulator, objected to a scene in "Of Good Report" where the character of a 16-year-old-girl has sex with a teacher.

Board spokesman Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase said the four regulators had all decided that the film was pornographic.

"The government calls us pornographers when we bring light to social issues," the film's director Jahmil XT Qubeka told Reuters on Tuesday.   Continued...