‘Inxeba’ (The Wound), a gay love story told entirely in isiXhosa, starring musician and singer Nakhane and produced by Urucu Media, has been chosen as South Africa’s entry into next year’s 90th Academy Awards, now known officially as The Oscars, in the category of best foreign language film.
Producers walked out of the press and industry screening at 11am on the first day of the Sundance Film Festival this year, where the film premiered in the World Dramatic Competition Category, with an offer for global licence rights to the film from the biggest VoD platform in North America. “They were the first ones to talk about Foreign Language Oscars® potential,” comments producer Elias Ribeiro, “but they did not confirm anything in writing and wanted to restrict the theatrical life of the film to enable the film to be a novelty on their platform. Saying no to them was one of the toughest decisions we ever had to make, but it paid off.”
Backed by one of the leading French sales companies, Pyramide International, the producers started in January to work on the positioning of the film as an Academy Awards® contender. To date the film has found a home in more than 30 countries between distributors and broadcasters, proving its international appeal.
“Locally, the film took home two awards at the longest running festival in southern Africa, The Durban International Film Festival, for Best Actor and Best South African Director,” says producer Cait Pansegrouw. “It was the best-performing film at both of its qualifying run cinemas in September. It’s a film that was five years in the making, from inception, and it is one that all South Africans can be proud of”.
In August, The New York Times listed ‘The Wound’ on their Critic’s Pick List during its theatrical run in the USA, and most recently The Economist listed the film under ‘What is the World Watching’. ‘Inxeba’ is being represented in the US by Kino Lorber, one of the world’s top distributors of the finest art house and international films. Variety already picked up on the film’s promise, by announcing the South African entry yesterday calling it “An unflinching examination of sexuality, masculinity and cultural identity”. The film has won 12 International Awards thus far, three them in the United States.
Peter Kwele, Head of Marketing and Communications at the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) congratulated the creators of ‘Inxeba’, saying, “It is important for the content we produce to disrupt and propel audiences to introspect and the film’s focus on important aspects of our culture and traditions, while addressing topical issues of identity, masculinity and sexuality does just that. I hope that we as South Africans will engage constructively around these issues.”
‘Inxeba’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Moonlight’, which won last years’ Oscar® for Best Film.
“’Inxeba’ is well positioned to secure a nomination and is now fundraising for an American campaign to ensure the best possible visibility for the film,” says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing the film in South Africa.
“To be honest, this would not be a satisfying moment if it wasn’t for the overwhelming love and goodwill we’ve received from South African (and in particular isiXhosa) audiences in the last few weeks,” said director John Trengove. “Going into this, we were committed to making the kind of film that wasn’t being made in our industry. We told a story we felt was urgent, and we created the kind of male characters that we think are sorely lacking on our screens. We never once thought we’d make a crowd-pleasing film, let alone one that would represent South Africa as an Oscar® submission. I hope this encourages other local filmmakers to take bigger risks and to try to express something of our uniquely South African experience.”
Previous submissions to this category from South Africa includes ‘Skoonheid’ (Beauty), ‘Four Corners’, ‘Elelwani’, ‘Noem My Skollie’ and ‘Little One’ amongst others.
‘Inxeba’ will release nationwide in South Africa in February 2018.