'Of Good Report' Wins Top South African Film Award

Hong Kong Intrernational Film Festival
A still from "Of Good Report"

The film noir, which couldn't open at the Durban film festival amid controversy, beat out "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"‎ at the country's equivalent of the Oscars.

Jahmil XT Qubeka's drama Of Good Report, which had been at the center of a controversy during last year's Durban International Film Festival, won the best feature film honor at the eighth South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) this weekend.

‎The film beat out Justin Chadwick's Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba, and Barry Berke's drama Sleeper’s Wake, and also ‎earned a slew of other honors.

The SAFTA Awards ceremony, hosted by comedians Tumi Morake and Alan Committie, once again honored and celebrated quality and excellence in South African film and TV. The winners received the Golden Horn trophy.

‎Of Good Report is about a teacher who becomes obsessed with a 16-year-old female pupil.‎ Its director has described the film noir as a serial killer origin story.

Of Good Report caused much debate and a controversy at last year's Durban International Film Festival as the South African Film and Publications Board refused to classify it as it featured an underage character having a sexual relationship with an adult. That meant the film couldn't open the fest as planned and couldn't screen until the fest's last day when the board reversed its decision after observers highlighted that the actress playing the underage woman was of legal age. The board gave the film the equivalent of an R rating in the U.S.

EARLIER: South African Film Board Clears Jahmil XT Qubeka's 'Of Good Report' After Appeal 

Of Good Report also won SAFTAs for best director, writing team, best actor (Mothusi Magano), best supporting actor (Tshamano Sebe)‎ and best supporting actress (Tina Jaxa).

The best animation honor went to Khumba from Triggerfish Animation Studios‎, known as "the Pixar of South Africa." It features the voices of Jake T. Austin, Steve Buscemi, Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne.

‎The film focuses on a half-striped zebra that is rejected by its superstitious herd and embarks on a quest to earn its stripes.

SAFTA organizers received what they said was a record 432 nominations across the different awards genres.

Said Zama Mkosi, CEO of South Africa's National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and chairperson of the SAFTA committee: "As a sign of the growing industry confidence towards the SAFTAs, we continue to see an upward trend in the number of entries. This year a total of 432 entries were received, compared to 354 entries in 2013 -- a healthy 22 percent increase."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai