Banned: State censors say sugar-daddy film contains child porn

2013-07-19 08:30

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The opening film of the Durban International Film Festival was not screened because it had been banned.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has decreed that Of Good Report by Jahmil Qubeka contains child pornography and is not fit for public consumption.

This is because of a scene in the film where a teacher has sex with a Grade 9 pupil who he obsesses over. The film tells a South African story where a teenage school girl sleeps with her sugar-daddy teacher.

Although the age of the pupil – in fiction – is somewhere between 14 and 16 years – the actress playing the role is 23 years old.

Director Qubeka last night appeared on stage with his mouth bound with transparent tape, refusing to give interviews because he had been gagged. He took out his ID document and tore it in half – symbolically denouncing his citizenship in protest.

Although he had learned of the judgment the night before, the cast and audience were stunned when a notice filled the big screen at the Suncoast Cinema, saying: “This film has been refused classification by the FPB in terms of the FPB Act 1996. Unfortunately we may not screen the film Of Good Report as to do so would constitute a criminal offence.”

Festival director Peter Machen said he received an email from the FPB refusing classification after it had viewed a tape of the film.

The state censors said the character was clearly under age and this constituted child pornography. In fact, the actress, Petronella Tshuma, is a mother and an adult.

The FPB said scenes showing the character Nolitha, played by Tshuma, confirmed that she was a minor when she was seen in her school uniform as a teenager.

“All copies of the film must either be surrendered to the police or destroyed,” they wrote.

There were gasps and cries of anger from the VIP audience in Durban when the ruling was read out loud.

Cast members and producers then took to the stage, calling for a protest against the ruling.

“I’m speechless,” said Tshuma. “I took this role to speak about my sisters who are running to older men.”

The cast called on representatives of the National Film and Video Foundation – who had delivered a speech earlier in the evening – and the Department of Arts and Culture, who were present, to do something about the ruling. The government agencies remained silent.

The film’s producers said they would take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

The director’s wife, Lwazi Manzi, an emergency doctor in Cape Town, spoke to City Press, outraged. She said she watched government talking about World Aids Day and 16 Days of Activism and Youth Day and Women’s Day – but at the end of the day “there I am with the teenagers who come into the hospital wanting abortions or suffering miscarriages from sugar daddies and their problems are not solved. It’s all just talk. They don’t really want to engage with the problem.”

Emcee for the evening, actress Hlubi Mboya, was furious about the ruling.

“It’s barbaric,” she said. “And here we were talking about Madiba’s birthday and freedom of expression in the opening speeches.”

Veteran actress Nomhle Nkonyeni, who stars in the film, said she had fought apartheid and had been physically removed from stages by the security police but that “history is repeating itself. They are using the same old laws to censor us now.”

The film has been selected to show on festivals in Toronto, Dubai and Rotterdam – but will not be seen at home unless the festival’s appeal against the ruling is successful.

Full document – Film and Publication Board bans Of Good Report

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