South Africa: Inxeba (The Wound): The Mamba Review

The most talked about South African film of the past year is finally here. More than 12 months after it premiered at the Sundance Film festival and went on to win 19 awards around the world, Inxeba (The Wound) is in local cinemas.

And it’s about time. Apart from the controversy and hype, the isiXhosa-language Inxeba is possibly the most important queer film made in South Africa. It’s also a damn fine piece of filmmaking.

Xolani (Nakhane Touré) is an isolated factory worker. He takes a break from city life when he’s asked to mentor a boy through his initiation, alongside a group of other youths and caretakers. While apparently indifferent to the task, it does afford Xolani the opportunity to meet up with long-time friend Vija (Bongile Mantsai) in the mountains of the Eastern Cape.

The men have been hooking up on-and-off over the years – something that’s been kept hidden from the other men, and especially Vija’s wife. As the men and boys go about their daily routines, Xolani struggles with the jarring openness of the younger generation and how to keep both his identity and his feelings for Vija in check.

Ultimately, he must make the decision to either break out of society’s constraints or keep upholding them at any cost.

Inxeba’s firstly a story of tragic forbidden love, but it’s also an exploration of masculinity; how it’s forced to conform to strict norms of acceptable behavior and expression through traditions and social pressures.

It’s one of the few major films to question what it means to be a man and to love another man within the context of South African culture. Inxeba is a story that needs to be told, especially in a country wracked by stigma that forces same-sex love and expression underground. It’s a repression that not only destroys lives and families but also fuels the high rate of HIV infection among MSM (men who have sex with men). Read more via Mamba Online

Directed by John Trengove Synopsis: Xolani, a lonely factory worker, joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a de ant initiate from the city discovers his best kept secret, Xolani's entire existence begins to unravel.