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South Africa film board gives Oscar-shortlisted film ‘Inxeba’ porn-equivalent rating over LGBT theme

The film had been released across the country earlier this month, classified as suitable for audiences aged 16 and above.

South Africa’s film board has banned Oscar-shortlisted drama Inxeba (released internationally as The Wound) from regular cinemas over its depiction of a homosexual relationship, Associated Press reported. The film was being shown in theatres in most of the country, but South Africa’s Film and Publication Board has now reclassified the film with an X18 rating, so that it can only be shown in “designated adult premises”. The film was earlier classified as LS 16 (for ages 16 and above).

Directed by John Trengove and produced by Urucu Media, Inxeba chronicles a closeted romantic relationship between two men in the background of the initiation ritual of the ethnic Xhosa community. The ratings reversal comes in the wake of protests led by Xhosa traditional leaders against the film. The movie was screened at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals last year and subsequently shortlisted in the best foreign language film category of the Oscars, but did not make it to the final five nominees.

According to a report in Variety, protests against the film disrupted its premiere in the country earlier this month, with seven of the 20 cinemas participating in the nationwide release refusing to screen it due to fear of violence on their premises.

The Film and Publication Board’s Appeal Tribunal reportedly said that the change in the rating would “protect children from exposure to disturbing and harmful material.” South Africa’s primary opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has condemned the film board’s ruling, regarding it “one step away from an outright ban.”

Urucu Media’s Elias Ribiero told Variety that he was “obviously disappointed” by the ruling, “given how it has classified this important work of art that explores themes around the construction of masculinity as an X-rated film.” The producers are now reportedly looking at legal options.

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