Producer Michael Auret said he was "shocked and saddened" that opening night of the 34th Durban Film Festival was cancelled because the South Africa Film and Publication Board refused to legalize any screening of the film "Of Good Report," claiming it would constitute a criminal offense.
At the scheduled opening, the following words appeared on the screen: "This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publication Board, in terms of the Film and Publications Act of 1996, unfortunately we may not legally screen the film, Of Good Report, as doing so would constitute a criminal offence."
Qubeka describes the picture as "a passionate homage to classic film noir." It tells the sombre tale of a small-town high-school teacher with a penchant for young girls and who becomes obsessed with a 16-year-old student.
In Qubeka's words, "Of Good Report," which is produced by Auret and Luzuko Dilima (Spier Films), "is a serial-killer origins story about how a social misfit turns into an inadequate man hell-bent on satisfying his shameful lust. It is Little Red Riding Hood, told from the wolf's perspective."He intends to appeal against the decision; if that doesn't work, producer Auret, who is a lawyer, vowed he will take it to the Constitutional Court. Auret said "It is not the function of state to moralise."
The manager of the film festival, Peter Machen gave this statement: "Unfortunately, the film and publication board has refused to allow the release of Of Good Report. According to their communication to the festival, the film contains a scene which constitutes child pornography and we are unable to legally show the film. I am very sorry about this. Out of respect for the director of the film, we will not be showing an alternative film tonight."Qubeka, who had taped his mouth shut, chose not to comment as an act of defiance, instead his wife, Dr Lwazi Manzi spoke on his behalf, describing the horrors of abused young women by older men that she encounters daily as a doctor at a government hospital. "Just because they (the FPB) don't want to see it, does not mean it does not happen." she said. "We shall not not talk about it. I am very proud of my husband, and the cast and crew. This is a pivotal day in the history of film in our country, one which will resonate in history."
Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities at UKZN, under whose curatorship the organisers of the Festival, The Centre for Creative Arts is a special project said. "We chose to not show another film in deference to the filmmaker, and to ensure there was critical mass to carry this debate and discourse forward."
Auret said he is "shocked and saddened that the film was banned just before it was due to open the Festival. What has become of our constitutional rights as citizens in South Africa? This is like the censorship of the old National Christian fascists of apartheid. We will fight to give South Africans the right to see the film."
The festival screenings of all other films, will continue as planned for the next nine days.
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