South African filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (his last feature film, A Small Town Called Descent, was profiled on this site), was to see his follow-up to that film, Of Good Report, open the 34th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), in Durban, South Africa, today, July 18.
BUT, as you can see in the image above, that didn't happen.
My Twitter feed has been buzzing a bit in the last hour, as DIFF attendees tweet their disgust with the above decision.
In short, from what my research tells me, the Films and Publications Act of 1996 (mentioned in the image) is an Act of the South African Parliament, which was created post-Apartheid, to evaluate media (including cinema), and classify according to what they believe its suitability for different audiences is. I suppose it's the equivalent of the MPAA here in the USA. Not exactly, but it's a similar kind of initiative.
The Act prohibits films or publications that advocate war, violence, and hatred especially if based on race, ethnicity, gender and religion.
Where Qubeka's film is said to be *problematic* is, from what others are sharing on social networking sites, that it "promotes child abuse & pornography."
Described as an homage to classic film noir, Of Good Report tells the story of a demented school teacher's attempts to get away with the brutal murder of a teenage beauty queen.
The teacher gets involved with one of his students, which obviously doesn't end well. The filmmaker calls it a "serial killer origins story about how a social misfit turns into an inadequate man hell-bent on satisfying his shameful lust. It is Little Red Riding Hood, told from the wolf’s perspective."
The celebrated young filmmaker has seen his past work across a spectrum of filmmaking disciplines, screen at various international film festivals, from Rotterdam, to Pusan International Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival (LA), Stolkholm Film Festival and others.
In 2005 an Aids documentary he directed for Sesame Street (Talk To Me) won the prestigious Peabody Award for best actuality programming, and more.
In a previous email exchange he and I had, Jahmil told me that his last film, A Small Town Called Descent, would be available on iTunes soon, so when we know that it's available, you will too. He was also very high on his latest film.
I've fired off an email to him to get more on the above decision not to screen his film. I haven't seen the film at the center of today's brouhaha yet, so I can't offer any commentary on the decision.
DIFF calls Of Good Report a challenging and evocative, yet humorous film, and a hypnotically engaging journey into the soul of a mentally troubled man.
Mothusi Magano stars in the film, along with Petronella Tshuma.
It's produced by Mike Auret and Luzuko Dilima (Spier Films).
DIFF's Peter Machen says: “We are extremely happy to be opening DIFF 2013 with Jahmil's brave and remarkable film. Of Good Report does so much more than simply telling a South African story – the film redefines the local filmmaking landscape and extends the language of African filmmaking while acknowledging the rich history of global cinema.”
And I'm definitely looking forward to checking it out, whenever it comes my way. It's not often that we see *genre* films by black African filmmakers, and, by all accounts thus far, this is one to watch out for. I can only imagine what the ruling body that made the decision sees in the film that the festival itself didn't.
No trailer yet unfortunately. See the image below in the meantime.
When I have more info on this, I'll certainly share.
The Durban International Film Festival takes place from July 18 – 28, 2013. The Festival includes 170 theatrical screenings, a full seminar/workshop programme as well as the Wavescape Film Festival and industry initiatives: the 6th Talent Campus Durban (in cooperation with the Berlin Talent Campus) and the 4th Durban FilmMart (the co-production market in partnership with the Durban Film Office), with the Wild Talk Africa Festival taking place in the city from July 23 to 26.
For more information go to www.durbanfilmfestival.co.za.