Nakhane Touré, star of South African film Inxeba (The Wound) has won the FIRPRESCI prize for best actor in a foreign language film at the 29th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), in California. The prize was awarded by a jury of international film critics. This latest accolade represents the 19th award of excellence that the film has won at festivals around the globe.
Inxeba premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. It tells the story of Xolani, a lonely factory worker, who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers Xolani’s best-kept secret, a closeted love affair, his entire existence begins to unravel.
“In addition to curating the best in international cinema, PSIFF has come to be known as the first stop on the road to the Academy Awards, and is focused on encouraging new filmmaking talent,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing Inxeba in South Africa. “The film has been a festival favourite around the world and is among the nine titles shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year.”
The nominees for the Oscar will be announced on 23 January, a couple of weeks after the nomination voting by the Academy members has closed and the finalists for the awards have been verified. Awards Watch, which tracks and predicts the nominees and winners of the Oscar, has given Inxeba an 80 per cent chance of winning the Foreign Language Film race.
“The response from across the globe has been exceptional,” say producers Cait Pansegrouw and Elias Ribeiro of Urucu Media. “We are extremely excited about the future of this film, and what it signals for the South African industry. Most of all, we are thrilled to be able to share it with audiences at home from the 2nd of February!”
Los Angeles Times said the cast is “remarkable”, describing “Nakhane’s quiet intensity like a flame in fear of being extinguished, while [co-star Bongile] Mantsai’s textured portrayal of a closeted man with a protective coating of alpha bullying creates a through line of emotional suspense.”
RogertEbert.com described John Trengove’s direction as “strong and sure”, characterising The Wound as “a film that deals with issues of masculinity, sexuality and community that will strike universal chords with viewers of all stripes, regardless of where they are from or where their beliefs may lie.”
The New York Times said, “[Trengove’s] direction is perfectly judged up to and including the shudder-inducing ending.”
Commenting on Nakhane, ScreenAnarchy.com noted that “This film would be worth watching for Nakhane’s performance alone, but it cannot be emphasized enough how good The Wound is as a whole.” Commenting on the film itself, reviewer Stuart Muller said, “Originality alone can count for a lot on the silver screen, but when originality sincerely serves the soul of a story the result is inevitably something quite profound. The Wound stands as a masterpiece of modern South African film-making, and an essential contribution to the social struggle for life and love for all.”
Australian film review site Switch had this to say about the film: “With a well-considered concept, The Wound is a great look at how tradition and modernity are coming to head. It’s not a criticism in any way, nor does it strive to provide a solution to the problem. Rather, the film is about holding up a mirror to the problem, and leaving the audience to evaluate the best answer.”
At the BFI Festival in London, where the film won the Sutherland Award’ recognising the director of the most original and imaginative first feature in the festival, The Wound was described by the prize jury as a “dynamic and inimitable coming-of-age story that takes a heart-breaking look at masculinity and sexuality.”
Inxeba is releasing in cinemas in South Africa on 2 February 2018.