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The Wound

// Presented as part of Filmatique's Visions from the South of the World Series //

Spotlight on The Wound  

Exclusive Essay: Inxeba (The Wound): Deconstructing Transnational Heteronormativity      



John Trengove / 2017, Sundance, Bergen, Berlin, BFI London, Carthage, CPH:PIX, Durban, Frameline, Göteborg, Helsinki, Istanbul Independent International Film Festival, Melbourne, Mumbai, New Directors/New Films, NYT Critics' Pick, Outfest, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Queer Lisboa, Sarasota, Sydney, Taipei, Thessaloniki, Valencia, Vancouver / 88'


Each year in the mountains of South Africa's Eastern Cape, young men belonging to the Xhosa tribe embark on a rite of passage. Away from their families they will become men, subject to a secretive circumcision ritual and weeks of recovery, community-building, and feats of physical endurance. As a city boy from Johannesburg Kwanda does not belong to this world, having been sent by his father to toughen up. He is assigned to Xolani, a solitary and taciturn veteran of the ritual now serving as a caretaker, but soon recognizes something of his own desire between Xolani and another guide.


Navigating the dynamics of queer identity within a hyper-masculine realm, Inxeba (The Wound) casts an inquiring lens onto normative notions of sexuality, race, and class in present-day South Africa. John Trengove's feature film debut premiered at Sundance, Berlin, Göteborg, Thessaloniki, New Directors/New Films, Vancouver; Palm Springs, where it won Best Actor in a Foreign Language Film; Queer Lisboa, where it won the Audience Award; Taipei, where it won the Grand Prize in the International New Talent Competition; and Mumbai, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. Inxeba (The Wound) was submitted as the South African entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, where it made the December shortlist.



"Intense and provocative… John Trengove's debut feature explores masculinity and repressed sexuality through an outsider's experience of a South African initiation ritual… As Paul Özgur's alert camerawork captures the dangerously shifting dynamics, the strong performances are fueled by the wild beauty of the rural setting"

- Sheri Linden, Sundance Review, The Hollywood Reporter