02/02/2018 16:17 SAST | Updated 02/02/2018 16:17 SAST

'Inxeba' (The Wound) Opens To Both Excitement And Protest

Although screenings have been suspended in some parts of the country, the movie is showing in most areas.

Actors Bongile Mantsai, Nakhane Toure and Niza Jay Ncoyini at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of "Inxeba"
Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival
Actors Bongile Mantsai, Nakhane Toure and Niza Jay Ncoyini at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of "Inxeba"

Controversial award-winning film "Inxeba" ("The Wound") opened in South African cinemas on February 2 to a mixed reception.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has called for a boycott of the film, arguing that it misrepresents the traditional Xhosa ulwaluko rite of passage (the traditional male initiation and circumcision ritual).

Ahead of the opening, Contralesa marched on various cinemas across Eastern Cape, resulting in the postponement of screenings at Walmer Park shopping centre in Port Elizabeth and Hemingways Mall in East London.

Since the release of its first trailer, the film – which is entirely in isiXhosa – has been the talk of the town, sparking debates in various communities.

It tells the coming-of-age story of a gay city boy (played by Niza Jay Ncoyini). He goes on a journey to manhood while at an initiation school in rural Eastern Cape, but refuses to conform to the Xhosa culture's idea of masculinity.

Man And Boy Foundation director Nkululeko Nxesi previously told Mail & Guardian that his organisation is also calling for screenings of the film to be blocked.

He said the foundation views the movie as an onslaught on the Xhosa culture.

"Traditional initiation schools are sacred spaces — not a space for sexual activity, regardless of whether it is homosexual sex or not. Others are against "Inxeba" because of the homosexuality but that argument fuels homophobia, which is quite dangerous – it is fuelling hatred.

"Our line of argument is not that. Our view is that even sex between a married couple cannot happen there, because it is a sacred space," he told the newspaper.

Reacting to the protest, people took to social media to share their views – for or against the film being screened.

Here are some of the reactions:

In other parts of the country, the movie has opened in cinemas without any protests reported.