Controversial film Inxeba – The Wound has won the Sutherland Award, which recognises the director of the most original and imaginative first feature, at the British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival.
The award went to John Trengove, with the prize jury describing the film as a “dynamic and inimitable coming-of-age story that takes a heartbreaking look at masculinity and sexuality”.
Inxeba is a powerful exploration of masculinity and unspoken queer desire set in the remote mountains of Eastern Cape.
“Among a strong field of debut features, we found ourselves enamoured by the urgency, vitality and originality of ‘The Wound’,” said the jury from the First Feature Competition.
In his acceptance speech, Trengove said the BFI London Film Festival had long been a beacon on his horizon. “I’d like to single out one person tonight – Nakhane Toure, our lead actor,” he said.
“It’s the most rewarding part of what I do, when I’ve struggled with a character on the page for so long, to one day be standing in front of that one person, in the flesh, who embodies everything I imagined and so much more. And, in the case of The Wound, this moment also became a political act.
“We created a character who mirrors the experiences of marginalised queer South Africans who have been erased from our cinema for far too long. This is our greatest achievement.”
Producer Elias Ribeiro noted the last time a South African filmmaker had been awarded the Sutherland trophy was in 1991.
“We feel truly honoured to follow in the footsteps of masterpieces of contemporary world cinema such as Zeitlin’s ‘Beasts of The Southern Wild’, Chen’s ‘Ilo Ilo’, Slaboshpytskiy’s ‘The Tribe’ and, more recently, my favourite film of 2016, Julia Ducournau’s ‘Raw’,” said Ribeiro.
“We hope to inspire young storytellers to take risks and strive to be authentic and truthful to their voices.”
Meanwhile, the film’s winning streak continued at home too, with Inxeba bagging the International Jury Award for Best Feature Film at the 2017 Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which was held from October 3 to 11.
“The DGLFF is a well-established festival, which has been running for seven years now, making this latest win for the film especially rewarding,” said Trengove.
“We were up against films from the US, Belgium, Ireland, and Canada, to mention a few. We are extremely honoured and grateful to the jury for their support and belief in the film.”