One of South Africa’s most highly anticipated movies, Inxeba (The Wound), finally hit local screens on Friday, but some cinema houses cancelled their screenings at the last minute.
Cinemas in the Eastern Cape as well as some in the Western Cape pulled the controversial film from their line-up.
The film, which depicts the development of a same-sex love-affair in the midst of a Xhosa initiation ritual, has been accused of disrespecting a sacred rite of passage.
“We heard that there had been a call to protest against this movie. We liaised with Nu Metro and they confirmed last night that they would not be screening the movie,” Leonie Scheepers, manager of Port Elizabeth’s Walmer Park shopping centre, said.
She added that a group of traditional leaders had arrived at the centre’s Nu Metro offices on Friday morning to seek surety that the film would not be screened.
“They were fairly peaceful, and there was no hostility. It was quite a large group and the police were here in case something did happen, but there was nothing of that sort. They met with Nu Metro and just wanted reassurance that the film would not be screened. Soon afterwards they left,” she said.
At the moment it is unclear whether Nu Metro would screen the movie at a later stage.
Another cinema, at Hemingways Mall in East London, also withdrew its screening, and so did Canal Walk, in Cape Town.
The cancellation came amid nationwide protests against the movie, with some claiming that the movie “goes against the Xhosa culture”.
Inxeba (The Wound) has already received international acclaim, including being named best foreign film by the African American Film Critics Association and best film at the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival in Amsterdam. It fell short of making it to the Oscars.
Directed by John Trengrove, this movie stars singer-songwriter Nakhane Touré, who along with fellow cast members, has received death threats for their role in the film.
Dealing with issues such as homosexuality, masculinity and traditionalism, online commentary has been divided.