Of Good Report, the South African feature by Jahmil XT Qubeka which was programmed as the opening film for the 34th Durban International Film Festival will show in Toronto, Rotterdam and Dubai Film Festivals later in the year, but it won't show on its home soil.
The Federal Publication Bureau (FPB) of South Africa has issues with the film. They have banned Of Good Report, that tells the sombre tale of a small town high school teacher with a penchant for young girls from showing in South Africa. The FPB want all the copies of the film destroyed. In fact there was no opening film for Durban filmfest on thursday night as the FPB stopped the festival from showing the feature.
It was an atmosphere of shock and disbelief for festivalgoers that filled the Suncoast Cinecentre in Durban when it was announced that the film won't be shown because Of Good Report was refused classification by the FPB. The board insist that the feature contained scenes with explicit sex scenes that promotes child pornography. The FPB warned that it will constitute a criminal offence to show or distribute Of Good Report in South Africa.
Not a few filmmakers condemned the decision of the FPB to'censor' a work of art. They argued that at best what the FPB would have done was to 'classify the film' and or worst grant exemption for it to show at the festival.
OF GOOD REPORT by Jahmil XT Qubeka - Official Trailer - South Africa, 2013 from Africiné www.africine.org on Vimeo.
A visibly enraged Jahmil, got on stage and tore his international passport to shred. 'This shouldn't be happening in South Africa. Not in 2013' he muttered. There was a consensus among filmmakers and even the organisers that the decision to ban the film should be contested and the organisers say they have began the process of engagement with officials of the FPB.
'We were as shocked as everyone was. But we have filled an appeal and have since last night began to engage the FPB' says Peter Machen festival director. Head of the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa (NFVF) Madam Zama Mkosi spoke in the same vein.
Even the cast and crew say they will protest the decision. 'Because to let it go will be the beginning of a slopping slope for creativity. Films are made to be seen and must be seen' remarked a member of cast. The festival ends on July 28th.
By Shaibu Husseini (Durban, South Africa)