The Wound (2017 film)

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The Wound
The Wound (2017 film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byJohn Trengove
Produced byElias Ribeiro
Cait Pansegrouw
Written byJohn Trengove
Thando Mgqolozana
Malusi Bengu
StarringNakhane Touré
Music byJoão Orecchia
CinematographyPaul Ozgur
Edited byMatthew Swanepoel
Release date
  • 22 January 2017 (2017-01-22) (Sundance)
Running time
88 minutes
CountrySouth Africa
Box office$30,678 (USA)[2][3] R598,571 (ZA)[4]

The Wound (Xhosa: Inxeba[5]) is a 2017 South African drama film directed by John Trengove.[6] It was screened in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival[7] and the Panorama section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.[8] The film opened the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival 2017.[9] It was selected as the South African entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards,[10][11] making the December shortlist.[12]


The story tracks a closeted relationship between two men in the context of the Xhosa initiation ritual of Ulwaluko.[13][14] Xolani, a factory worker, joins the men of his community at the annual initiation ceremony in the mountains of Eastern Cape. In addition to serving as a mentor to the boys undergoing the ceremony, Xolani looks forward to the annual tradition due to the fact that it provides him the opportunity to reestablish his sexual and romantic relationship with Vija. When Xolani is assigned to be the mentor of Kwanda, a young man from Johannesburg, he quickly realizes that Kwanda is also gay, and Kwanda soon realizes the nature of the relationship between Vija and Xolani. Tensions soon rise between the three men.[15]


  • Nakhane Touré as Xolani
  • Bongile Mantsai as Vija
  • Niza Jay Ncoyini as Kwanda
  • Siphosethu "Seth Singer" Ngcetane as Nkosi
  • Loyiso Lloyd N Ngqayana as Vija's Inititate
  • Sibabalwe Esbie Ngqayana as Zuko
  • Halalisani Bradley Cebekhulu as Lukas
  • Inga Qwede as Ncedo


Inspiration for The Wound came after director John Trengove read A Man Who is Not a Man, a novel by Thando Mgqolozana on the topic of the Xhosa initiation ceremony.[16] Trengove wished to challenge the notion that homosexuality was a product of western culture that posed a threat to traditional African culture.[17] The film received funding from the National Film and Video Foundation.[18] Cultural experts were consulted to ensure the authenticity of the material.[19]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89%, based on 44 reviews with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Wound uses its complex, timely story as effective grist for a thought-provoking exploration of the human dynamic."[20] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

Inxeba received 19 awards at 44 festivals worldwide; received eight South African Film and Television Awards (Safta) nominations, including Best Actor, Best Directing and Best Film; and was short-listed for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category.[16][22]


The film has been accused of cultural insensitivity because it portrays secretive initiation rituals. However, other media covering the same topic, like Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, have not received similar criticism, leading to accusations that complaints about the film are instead motivated by homophobia.[13][16][18]

A day after the film's release in South Africa, cinemas in the Eastern Cape province were forced to cancel screenings of the film and offer refunds because of protests, intimidation and vandalism. Nu Metro Cinemas subsequently cancelled screenings countrywide, while Ster-Kinekor continued to show it outside of the Eastern Cape. The film's producers filed complaints with the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality over threats and violence.[16][22] Crew and cast received death threats and were forced to go into hiding.[4]


The film was initially classified as 16LS by South Africa's Film and Publication Board (FPB), but was later reclassified as X18 by the FPB's Appeal Tribunal after complaints by the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa and other cultural and Christian organisations. X18 is the rating reserved for hardcore pornography, although Inxeba contains none, and meant that distribution was limited to premises licensed to show pornography, resulting in the film's removal from all South African cinemas.[14][23][24] The Democratic Alliance criticised the decision of the Appeal Tribunal, characterising it as "nothing short of censorship" by "patriarchs and homophobes".[25] FPB classifiers themselves have concluded that the Appeal Tribunal's rating amounted to unlawful censorship based on homophobia.[24][26]

Urucu Media, the producers of Inxeba, and the SA Screen Federation intended to challenge the film's X18 rating in court, on the basis that they were denied an opportunity to make representation to the Tribunal, and that the Appeal Tribunal's decision is incompatible with the principles of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.[24][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Wound (2017)". Unifrance. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  2. ^ "The Wound". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Inxeba (2017)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b O'Reilly, Athena; Madibogo, Julia (8 February 2018). "Inxeba cast members moved to safe house amidst security threats". The Sowetan. Tiso Blackstar Group. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  5. ^ Tjiya, Emmanuel (30 January 2018). "'Inxeba' (The Wound) film review". The Sowetan. Tiso Blackstar Group. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  6. ^ "The Wound". TFL Extended. TorinoFilmLab. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  7. ^ Erbland, Kate (30 November 2016). "Sundance 2017 Announces Competition and NEXT Lineups, Including Returning Favorites and Major Contenders". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  8. ^ Press Office (20 December 2016). "Berlinale Panorama 2017: The Wound Selected to Open Panorama's Main Programme / Focus on "Black Worlds" and "Europa Europa"". Berlin International Film Festival. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  9. ^ "The Wound". TLVFest. Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  10. ^ Blignaut, Charl (1 October 2017). "Xhosa initiation film Inxeba (The Wound) selected as South Africa's Oscars bid". Channel24. News24. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  11. ^ Vourlias, Christopher (1 October 2017). "South Africa Enters 'The Wound' in Foreign-Language Oscar Race". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  12. ^ Pond, Steve (14 December 2017). "Oscars Foreign Language Shortlist Includes 'The Square,' 'A Fantastic Woman'". TheWrap. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Mdoda, Anele (29 August 2017). "Lynn Forbes & Nakhane". Real Talk with Anele. Season 3. Episode 103. YouTube. SABC 3. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Outcry Over Reclassification of Inxeba". The Callsheet. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  15. ^ Sobczynski, Peter (16 August 2017). "The Wound". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d Mabasa, Nkateko (9 February 2018). "Inxeba: Wounding the Pride and Prejudice of Xhosa men?". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  17. ^ Pountain, David (26 April 2018). "Interview: John Trengove and Nakhane Touré talk The Wound". FilmDoo. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  18. ^ a b Roets, Adriaan (19 February 2018). "Inxeba shows how far African storytelling still has to go". The Citizen. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  19. ^ "SABC Digital News (4 February 2017). John Trengove's latest film, The Wound, premiers in Berlin. SABC News. YouTube. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  20. ^ "The Wound (Inxeba) (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  21. ^ "The Wound Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  22. ^ a b SABC Digital News (4 February 2017). "Prince Abongile Ngozi on the backlash towards the movie Inxeba". SABC News. YouTube. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  23. ^ Levitt, Jessica (14 February 2018). "Inxeba gets same classification as hardcore porn, pulled from movie houses". The Times. Tiso Blackstar Group. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  24. ^ a b c Dlwati, Vukile (18 February 2018). "The Wound filmmakers to fight film's X18 reclassification". Channel24. News24. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  25. ^ Van Damme, Phumzile (14 February 2018). "Inxeba X18 rating is nothing short of censorship". Democratic Alliance. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  26. ^ a b Staff Writer (18 February 2018). "Inxeba producers to fight pornography classification". MyBroadband. Retrieved 18 February 2018.

External links[edit]