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A traditional rite of passage ritual forms the backdrop for this tough and complex tale of closeted sexuality in South Africa.
Director: John Trengove
A traditional rite of passage ritual forms the backdrop for this powerful exploration of masculinity and unspoken queer desire. In the remote mountains of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, the teenage boys of the Xhosa community are initiated into manhood through an annual circumcision ritual. This painful ordeal is followed by two weeks healing, during which each initiate is assigned an elder to teach the culture’s codes of masculinity. Factory worker Xolani is tasked with caring for Kwanda, a petulant adolescent from Johannesburg. As the days pass, Kwanda begins to notice Xolani harbours a deep affection for fellow elder Vija, leading to growing tensions between the three men.
Privileging a need for cultural authenticity, director John Trengove worked with a cast of exclusively native Xhosa speakers, many of whom are non-actors. The result is a visually breathtaking, thematically complex meditation on the wounds that exist on the surface and those deeper scars that never truly heal.