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

Durban International Film Festival Poster 2013

The Durban film fest honors the director of the movie, which couldn't be screened as its opening film, with a new award for artistic bravery.

LONDON - The 34th edition of the Durban International Film Festival said Saturday night that a controversial film that it had planned to screen on its opening night, but was banned from doing so by the country's film clearing board, has been cleared on appeal.

It also honored its director with a new award.

The festival said late Saturday that the film, Of Good Report by Jahmil XT Qubeka, has been classified by South Africa's Film and Publications Board on the weekend after an appeals process.

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The Film and Publications Board reversed its decision to ban the movie Saturday and gave the film an R rating.

"The film was not screened in any of its allocated slots as a result of the refusal for classification and so could not be in competition," festival organizers explained. But the Durban festival acknowledged "the film’s achievements in stimulating worldwide debate and highlighting important issues in South African society" and awarded it a new annual award for artistic bravery.

Festival manager Peter Machen announced the award late Saturday.

International jury member June Givanni said: "We have to express our regret that this journey could not include the South African competition entry Of Good Report, which the Film and Publication Board did not license for public screening in time for us to take it into consideration. The jury is saddened and concerned about the limitations to freedom of expression that are still in force on the continent and beyond, but we are glad that on this occasion the decision has been over-turned."

Of Good Report will now be screened on Sunday, the last day of the festival.

The Durban festival also said Saturday night that its jury has awarded The Land of Hope from Japan's Sion Sono its best feature film award.

It lauded the film about the dangers of nuclear energy, saying it “masterfully and humbly draws together an array of cinematic means of expression to engage us in a story." The best South African feature film honor went to South African filmmaker Andrew Worsdale for musical road movie Durban Poison.

Twitter: @georgszalai