Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Wound (Inxeba)

The Wound (Inxeba), dir. John Trengove, 2017 South Africa, 88 min., in Xhosa with English subtitles 👏
Sunday, June 18, 7:00 p.m., Castro Theatre: West Coast première

The Wound (Inxeba)
Xolani (pictured, in the maroon shirt) is a Xhosa man who lives in Queenstown, South Africa, but who returns each year to be a caregiver in the traditional initiation ceremony for teen boys becoming men. The initiation involves a painful ritual circumcision, followed by days of healing and mentoring. For Xolani, it also involves being able to spend time with his childhood friend Vija, a fellow caregiver with whom he has an episodic sexual relationship. However, this year, Xolani’s initiate, a “sensitive” city boy named Kwanda, locks horns with Vija, threatening to unravel Xolani’s delicately balanced closeted world.

The deep-seated homophobia in what we see of Xhosa society is clear, but I don’t know how much of that homophobia is rooted in millennia of Xhosa culture and how much of it is the residue of more recent centuries of cultural colonization: for instance, even while engaging in this Xhosa rite, Vija still wears an unmistakably Christian gold cross pendant. What is clear, though, is that Xolani is an outsider against the macho backdrop of this ceremony, trying very hard not to be an outcast. Although the details of Xhosa culture will be unfamiliar (and in places unsettling) to most Western audiences, the tension between Xolani and Vija transcends those confines. Highly recommended.

Note: the letter ‘X’ in Xhosa represents a “click” sound not found in European languages.

IMDb page • Twitter: @TheWound_SAFilm • trailer (YouTube) (vimeo) •

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