‘Inxeba’ boldly explores tradition and masculinity, and the clash between age-old rituals and modernity.
Writer-director John Trengove’s first feature film, ‘Inxeba’ (known internationally as ‘The Wound’) is taking the world by storm and will have its African premiere in competition at the Durban International Film Festival (13 to 23 July)
‘Inxeba’ is the first feature from writer-director John Trengove, and is co-written by Trengove, Thando Mgqolozana and Malusi Bengu. The Xhosa initiation ritual which forms the landscape of the film is also the subject of ‘Inxeba’ co-writer Mgqolozana’s novel, ‘A Man Who Is Not a Man’.
‘Inxeba’, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and later opened Berlinale Panorama, was a 2014 Durban FilmMart project. This initial pitch enabled the team behind it to obtain funding from a number of international financiers, resulting in a co-production between South Africa, France, Germany and The Netherlands.
According to a Sundance review, “John Trengove’s hard-edged but beautifully wrought study of clashing Xhosa models of masculinity will be an eye-opener to outsiders — and some South Africans too.”
Described by Variety magazine as “a milestone in South African cinema”, the film stars musician and novelist Nakhane Touré as Xolani, a lonely factory worker who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini), a defiant initiate from the city, discovers his mentor’s secret, Xolani’s entire existence begins to unravel.
- ‘Inxeba’ (known internationally as ‘The Wound’) has won the Best Film Award in the International New Talent Competition, at the Taipei Film Festival, which runs from 29 June to 15 July. The festival screens 160 films from more than 40 countries to around 100 000 visitors each year and is recognised as the most influential showcase of international cinema in Taiwan.
- At Cinema Jove, the Valencia International Film Festival, held in Spain from 23 June to 1 July, ‘Inxeba’ was awarded the Luna de Valencia for Best Feature Film, as well as the Best Actor Award for Nakhane Touré.
- At one of the world’s longest-running film festivals, the Sydney Film Festival, held from 7 to 18 June, ‘Inxeba’ won the Audience Award for Best Feature, with ScreenDaily describing it as “a measured consideration of class, race, self-loathing and self-assertion”.
- At the 41st Frameline, San Francisco’s international film festival, held from 15 to 25 June and where 147 films were screened, ‘Inxeba’ won the First Feature Award.
- Shortly before that, it was awarded the prize for Best Feature Film at the 32nd Lovers Film Festival, an LGBTQI festival held in Turin, Italy from 15 to 20 June.
- In April, the film received the Jury Prize for Best Narrative at the 19th annual Sarasota Film Festival in Florida, in the US. The festival is known as a world-class platform for thought-provoking films from some of the best known and emerging independent filmmakers. At the MOOOV International Film held in March 2017, in Belgium, it garnered a Special Mention.
‘Inxeba’ will continue to travel around the world, having been sold to 19 countries for theatrical release thus far, and will be distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution.
“The release strategy for South Africa ensures that the film will qualify as a strong contender to represent the country in the Foreign Language Film nominations for the 2018 Oscars,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution. “We are excited about ‘Inxeba’ as it is an authentic South African story that has gained traction globally.”
Writer-director John Trengove
One of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans, his career spans theatre, television, documentary, commercials and short film.
A Loerie and SAFTA recipient, John is best known for his acclaimed miniseries Hopeville that received the Rose d’Or for best drama and was nominated for an International Emmy. His short film The Goat premiered at Berlinale and Toronto in 2014 and went on to play at over 20 international festivals. John directs fringe theatre in his spare time (Including the cult hit The Epicene Butcher) and heads up the development wing of Urucu Media.
His debut feature film, The Wound, had its world premiere in competition at The Sundance Film Festival and went on to open Panorama at the Berlinale. The film will continue to travel to festivals around the world in 2017.