The DA has condemned the Film and Publication Board (FPB) Appeal Tribunal’s decision re-classify the controversial movie Inxeba The Wound to a rating of X18.

The new rating saw the movie pulled from cinemas across South Africa on Tuesday. The rating ensures the film can only be “distributed from designated adult premises” and “cannot be screened in cinemas or any other platform that is not a designated adult premises as defined by the Film and Publications Act no 96 of 1996”. The film can only be shown at stores with licenses to distribute pornographic material.

DA MP and shadow minister of communications Pumzile van Damme said: “We encourage the producers of Inxeba to fight all the way to the highest court in the land by urgently taking this decision on review.

“It is a shame that the tribunal buckled to pressure from patriarchs and homophobes, instead of siding with the Constitution. Section 16 of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights expresses everyone’s right to freedom of expression, this includes the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas as well as freedom of artistic creativity.

Phumzile van Damme speaks on the classification on Inxeba The Wound

“This decision is not in the best interest of the public, but rather an attempt to preserve patriarchal ideas of masculinity and tradition. Inxeba challenges outdated ideas pertaining to manhood, homosexuality, initiation and cultural practices. The producers of this film have been brave in bringing this film to life and we have the responsibility to protect their Constitutional and artistic freedoms."

The FPB published the decision through a series of tweets today. The statement said reasons explaining why the rating had been overturned, would be made available later.

This was after the Congress of Traditional Leaders complained that the film was culturally insensitive and distorts the Xhosa tradition of circumcision. The appeal was brought on by Contralesa Gauteng as well as The Men and Boy Foundation.

Inxeba tells the story of Xolani, a lonely factory worker, who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best kept secret, Xolani's entire existence begins to unravel.

The film claimed eight South African Film and Television Awards (Safta) nominations, including Best Actor, Best Directing and Best Film. It has also won 19 awards at 44 festivals in more than 25 countries, including South Africa. The film was shortlisted for this year's Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.