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Friday, August 2, 2013


Qubeka creates his own classic. Nine out of ten here. (Review by Pranesh Maharaj)

Directed by Jahmil X T Qubeka and produced in South Africa in 2013, Of Good Report is in Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho with English subtitles. The film attracted major national and international media reaction when it’s screening on the opening night of the recent Durban International Film Festival was banned.

The much anticipated Of Good Report showed to a packed cinema on the final day of the festival, after its initial banning by the Film Publications Board on the opening night. The appeals board of the Film Publications Board had overturned their previous ruling to ban the film and then the director tells us that they simultaneously released a press letter stating their position on the initial ruling remains their stance in the matter.

Qubeka’s third film tells of a small-town high-school teacher who meets a gorgeous young woman at a local tavern and has a sexual relationship with her, only to find out later that she is only 16 and a member of his class.

After the screening, we were given a chance to ask questions. Mine were: “Why (film in) black and white?” Jahmil: “I don’t like the look and colour of blood”. Me: “Why did you not give the main character a voice?” Jahmil: “He had a voice, in fact he had a lot to say; but I also wanted to create the sense that he is one of those people who are spoken to. People like that think on that level...”

And then most people went back to the politics surrounding the movie, except the interesting conversation about the score and music.

I have gone past the hype and the politics. This film has the potential to change the way all our mediums of the performance arts guide themselves. He broke rules and did it gently. He was sensitive to everything, yet he told it all. The film moves back and forth in time effortlessly breaking the rules of quantum physics. I only cringed at certain transitions or the lack thereof, wondering if it would translate to the rest of the audience. As a film maker, I would have pondered a long while over what translates and what doesn’t. Jahmil didn’t have to care about this because his script did it all for him. And he wrote the script. Everything was well-placed and contributed to the story.

I walked out thinking he had two choices when he started penning his ideas. One was to tell the story and scare the perpetrators; and the other was to scare the victims. He chose to scare the victims which in this particular case represent the 'sugar daddy culture'; the victims largely make the choice and are not educated enough by their parents and teachers to see that these situations have tragic ends. This is a bold statement but it is, nonetheless, a fact. I want to deal with FPB one more time. What is their problem? There is only one version of the film. The one we saw yesterday. Wake up, guys. No porn here.

Jahmil uses literature, music, dance, comedy, thrill and wit in making this story interesting. Amidst my awe at this magnificent production I was also thinking that he might be influenced by the black and white in Schindler's List or the time lapses in Pulp Fiction; but step aside Spielberg and Tarentino, Jahmil has his own mind. He did not take the easy road and relegate to cult templates. He created his own classic. Nine out of ten here. - Pranesh Maharaj