Saturday, 20 July 2013

Of Poor Report - By: Matt Vend

Lights, camera, action! The allure of the movies, glitz and glamour and all the swagger of Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp, this is the side of the film industry most people know and look up to. Having many friends involved in film making in South Africa and Durban has brought me to believe that certain individuals within it are trying their utmost to not conform to the fa├žade of mainstream 1st world cinema, but are carving their own paths. One that is unique, original and tenacious. I am no film expert but my relationship with various people involved within the Durban and South African film industry has led me to believe these notions to be true in some instances, however not all. All we have to do is look at recent examples such as District 9 or Tsotsi to acknowledge that South Africa is starting to become an international player in film and other art forms.

New South African voices are arising giving social issues more weight as they are telling real stories about real people. Is this celebrated? False! Should this be celebrated? Definitely!

On the birthday of the father of the nation Mr Nelson Mandela, a new emerging South African voice was silenced at The Durban International Film Festival Opening at Suncoast Casino last night, many would argue that draconian censorship rules reminiscent of an extremely monstrous past reared its ugly malicious jaws and took a big bite out of freedom of speech.

However this did not stop the actors, produces and director of the film ‘Of Good Report’ Jahmil XT Qhubeka, from taking a stand. The director stepped forward on the stage with his mouth taped shut and commenced to burn his passport in defiance quite ironic as silence is a concept used heavily in this film as the lead character doesn’t utter a word through its duration.

I am one of the few people out there lucky to have seen this incredible piece of South African cinema. Somewhat of an ignorant commoner when it comes to the technical aspects of making film it would be hard for me to comment on the aesthetics of it. Although the content was changeling, it told a great story and to be honest whilst watching it I forgot that this film even had a social agenda or particular message as I was totally immersed in the authentic characters, interesting original South African music and believable performances. Only after dissecting the film I thought to myself, hang on now, this film is really saying something about the current state of our country and our still overtly obvious patriarchal ways of viewing the world, the most shocking of all realisations that came from this film is that we as a South African society are failing our youth horribly and are allowing many young women to be put in situations where they become victimised and that is the real tragedy.

It is an absolute shame that it was censored. For the small fact that we let American television and films poison our society with far worse imagery, (hell even CNN is more disturbing and in my opinion fiction) that often has absolutely no relevance to us. Of Good Report did deal with intense subject matter and in fact it's a far more violent film then it is sexually perverse. However no more than any Tarantino gore fest.

What is disheartening is that when any of the new blockbusters across the genre spectrum come out of America or the UK no matter how changeling the subject matter may be it is it still given a voice. Yet ours are being silenced in our own country and not in others as ‘Of Good Report’ is set for screenings at leading film festivals around the world. I honestly think this is a classic case of shoot the messenger, the film and publication board is scared shitless to see the real South Africa, so they pretend it isn't there.

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