The opening of the Durban International Film Festival did not proceed as the organisers had planned. According to media reports, the Film and Publication Board watched a little over 28 minutes of the film titled ‘Of Good Report’ and decided to ban the film for depicting scenes of child pornography. The film was due to launch this year’s film festival but all the viewers saw on the screen was: “This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publications Act 1996. Unfortunately we may not legally screen the film Of Good Report, as to do so would constitute a criminal offence.”
‘Of Good Report’ is a film about the sexual relationship between a school teacher and one of his pupils. The director, Jahmil Qubeka, hoped that the film would highlight many similar stories about young girls who are easily influenced into having affairs with much older men for financial gain.
Speaking on behalf of the Film and Publications Board, Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase said: “The board is not trying to censor a particular individual. It is the law in South Africa.” He said that the Film and Publication Board had been working together with the government to curb child pornography. Ndamase confirmed that if the director wished to appeal this decision, acting High Court Judge Karthy Govender would oversee the process via an independent appeals tribunal.
The sixteen year-old lead character in film is Nolitha who is portrayed by 23 year-old actress Petronella Tshuma. Tshuma was disappointed that people were looking for scenes of pornography instead of focussing on the real issues raised by the film. Lee-Ann van Rooi, another actress in the film said: “It is a story told in an honest and brutal way so that the audience can see the movie and with that in mind, change.”
The 34th Durban Film Festival is organised by the University of KwaZulu-Natal and continues until 28 July.