Over the course of human history, taking the journey into manhood has been a pivotal moment in a boy’s life. Whilst the developed world has largely left this tradition in the past, religious ceremonies aside, it still an integral part of many cultures. However, there’s a distinct divide between urban and rural in many African countries, with city-dwellers often sneering at these kinds of outdated practices. The Wound focusses on repressed sexuality through one such ritual.
Every year, young Xhosa men are taken to the mountains of the Eastern Cape to participate in an ancient coming-of-age ritual. Xolani (Nakhane Touré), who now works in a Johannesburg factory, returns to be a guide for one of the initiates. Kwanda (Niza Jay), a city boy, has been sent by his father to ‘toughen him up’. Xolani must guide him through this painful process whilst dealing with his feelings for the aggressive Vija (Bongile Mantsai), a fellow ‘caregiver’.
The Wound is a tense drama which deals with homosexuality in an extremely masculine environment. One where showing any kind of weakness or deviation from traditional patriarchal values us seen as ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. Nakhane, who is an openly gay South African musician, manages to strike just the right tone. A mix of pent-up intensity and benign resignation. John Trengove’s feature debut is an emotive and powerful story of intolerance and social stigma in a deeply conservative environment.
The Wound is released on DVD by Peccadillo Pictures on 18 June.