THE NOT SO GOOD REPORT
By: Tony Manyangadze
Shock and shattered dreams.
These are the best words to describe the events that took place at the Opening night of the 34th Durban International Film Festival on Thursday.
This after a screening of a locally produced film, Of Good Report, was banned by the South African Film and Publication Board following allegations of child pornography.
“This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publication Board, in terms of the Film and Publication Act of 1996. Unfortunately we may not legally screen the film ‘Of Good Report’ as to do so would constitute a criminal offence,” is what was written on the big-screen, replacing the film which all eyes had anticipated to watch.
Upon viewing this message on the big-screen, the audience that packed two SunCoast Casino cinemas went into a frenzy with one ‘naughty’ person even screaming, “This must be a joke or something.” Regrettably, it was not a joke.
Nolitha Ngubane, a character in the movie played by Petronella Tshuma, who also stars in the eTV soap, Scandal, is that of a 16-year old girl who ends up in an intimate relationship with her teacher, Parker Sithole played by Mothusi Magano. According to the Board, it is this affair and its depiction of a minor having sexual contact with an older male that has led to the passing of the judgment.
Jahmil Qubeka, the film director together with the cast and crew present at the screening, could not hide their anger and disappointments. After the formal announcement of the ban, they went one after the other to the podium, expressing their views regarding the board’s decision. Whilst Qubeka dramatically and symbolically had his mouth taped, it was his wife, Lwazi Manzi, a medical doctor and an executive producer of the film, who gave statements on his behalf.
“The subject matter that is being covered in this film is something that I see everyday single day. If we are going to be censored then I suggest that the ministers of education, all people that are involved in the screening system and all the people that are involved in the social welfare of our youth also be banned and be censored,” said Manzi.
“Just because they don’t want to see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Film and Publication Board issued a restriction and a warning to anyone who by any chance happens to have a copy of the film.
According to the Board’s letter to the Director of the film and the organisers of the Durban International Film Festival, it stated, “All copies must be either surrendered to the police or be destroyed in terms of the Film and Publication act 1996 the possession and distribution of child pornography is a criminal offense.”
However, Vice Chancellor and head of College for Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, made it clear that they are against the Board’s decision and will definitely challenge this notion.
“University of KwaZulu-Natal, we have no doubt that we will appeal this decision…we will not screen another movie (in place of Of Good Report) because it would just not be respectful to the directors and everybody involved,” she said.