Posts Tagged ‘Thobani Mseleni’

Initiates and Caregivers

The Wound


Director: John Trengrove

Cast: Nakhane Toure, Bongile Mantsai, Niza Jay, Thobani Mseleni

Director John Trengrove’s film The Wound about ritual circumcision practices in the rural Xhosa community is sure to generate discussions around patriarchy, cultural taboos and more controversially homosexuality.

The Wound premiered internationally at the Sundance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah in January 2017 and later opened the Berlinale Panorama at the Berlin International Film Festival in the same month.

The Wound had its South African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in July 2017 At the 38th Durban International Film Festival, John Trengrove won Best Director for The Wound and Nakhane Toure  who plays the main character Xolani deservedly won Best Actor.

The Wound also had its premiered at the 7th Annual Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Scheduled for commercial release in South Africa in early 2018, The Wound is already generating controversy and passionate discussion on social media and given the amount of publicity around the film it is sure to inject life into contemporary 21st century South African film analysis.

The story focuses on a lonely factory worker Xolani who works in Johannesburg but travels back to the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood through the Xhosa cultural practice of ritual circumcision under the supervision of his male tribal elders.

The Wound is about a sexually charged love triangle between Xolani played by Nakhane Toure, Vija played by Bongile Mantsai and the young Kwanda played with a precocious abandonment by Niza Jay framed within an almost secretive cultural practice of the Xhosa ritual circumcision ceremonies which takes place in the mountainous Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

As a piece of cinema, The Wound is riveting entertainment and certainly an eye opener in many respects beautifully directed by John Trengrove who in keeping with the desire to make an authentic ethnographic film smartly has all the dialogue in Xhosa and has no female characters since the narrative focuses on the complex relationships between initiates and caregivers which dominates many patriarchal societies especially where rights of manhood are concerned.

Comparisons are there for many viewers in similar societies internationally, but what is more perplexing about The Wound is Xolani’s ultimate choice to free himself of his hidden sexual identity. A choice which appears to be devoid of moral consequence.

The Wound is a fascinating portrayal of masculinity, hidden love and how society shapes rituals to transform teenage boys into brave and tough men. Which is also not specific to the Xhosa tribe, but to many other cultures and nationalities worldwide where it is imperative to prepare the men for a prescribed role of familial provider, defender and protector.

Provocatively, The Wound will certainly generate significant discussion around visual interpretations of patriarchy and sexuality which makes the film all the more relevant, relentless and resonant.

Highly recommended viewing, The Wound is film making at its best and should fare brilliantly as South Africa’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards aka the Oscars. If it does get nominated, then The Wound will join a canon of international world cinema which delves intimately into subjects which are essentially taboo in their home countries.

The Wound gets a Film Rating of 8.5 out 10. Ultimately, the wider audience needs to see this film and challenge their own preconceptions.


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