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Saturday, July 20, 2013


(Pranesh Maharaj, new reviewer for artSMart who is covering the 2013 DIFF and attended the opening night at which “Of Good Report” was refused screening by the Film and Publication Board on the grounds of child pornography)

The gagging…

It’s been over four years since I drove to Newcastle from Durban and my first instance of noticing a billboard with an advert displaying an older gentleman in a car with a very young girl. Yes, it disturbed me. Then I read the caption that said: “It could be your daughter”.

How was I to receive this? Well, I had two choices. If I am a father; to protect my child, and, if I am a perpetrator, to know that someone is onto you. It also felt safer to know that the issue existed and that something was being done about it.

Four years later, I ask myself - has one billboard done the trick and stamped out the ‘Sugar Daddy’ culture or has it only dented a growing monster? Like the purported reports of corruption and similar, conspiracy theories surrounding this issue are unavoidable following last night’s Film and Publications Board’s gagging of a tremendous story that could do the work of a million billboards.

It is more suggestive to me that the ‘Sugar Daddies’ are of higher social ranks than we know and that they wield a power over the media that could stand to ruin them. Or, that their souls might be tainted with the truth. It is difficult looking into a mirror when you are ugly. And yet, the first question that everyone is asking is “Was it a publicity stunt?” Nobody is asking “Was it an awareness stunt?” Yes, there is a difference.

Our visual perspective of the opening ceremony was through the lens of yet another camera, being hauled into an alternate cinema, whilst the actual action happened on a certain main stage. So we were in essence watching a movie ... Except that it was a movie of a movie that wasn’t screened. (So excuse my jaundiced eye) It started with flare and had a dramatic, tragic end. The Bard would have been pleased. Was it designed? It had to be. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The impact of the subject matter was far greatly addressed on that night than it would have been had the movie been shown.

But – enough, people from FPB; the publicity that you wanted to give the subject matter has been received. Now give South Africans their right to view this piece and make their own decisions. – Pranesh Maharaj