Rights group cautions artists against child porn

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cape Town-based child rights group Molo Songololo has cautioned artists to adhere to child porn laws after a film allegedly depicting such scenes was banned.

Its director Patric Solomons said this week that while he has not seen the film Of Good Report, the non-profit wanted artists to “support efforts to prevent abuse and violence against children”.

Of Good Report was this month banned by the Film and Publications Board for allegedly depicting child pornography.

Its director Jahmil XT Qubeka was angry last Thursday when his film, meant to open the 34th Durban International Film Festival, could not be screened.

A warning about the publication board’s decision was instead shown on the big screen.

“This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publication Board, in terms of the Film and Publications Act of 1996, unfortunately we may not legally screen the film, Of Good Report, as doing so would constitute a criminal offence,” it read.

Solomons said local laws “regarding child pornography is extensive and makes it illegal to produce, distribute and process child pornography in any form”.

“Filmmakers, artists, social scientists all have to adhere to these very strict conditions as any representation, real or simulated, of a child in a sexual way can be an offence,” he said.

“The film and publications board must consider the rights of the child to be protected and if it found that the film have over-stepped the boundary it should not be suitable for public viewing and distribution.”

Solomons added: “Filmmakers have a responsibility to adhere to and respect the child legal framework and must also consider the context in which they represent children… unnecessary representation of violence against children and violence in general should be avoided.”

Qubeka’s film tells the “sombre tale of a small-town high-school teacher with a penchant for young girls”, informs the synopsis.

“The result is a hypnotically engaging journey into the soul of a mentally troubled man. The trouble for the protagonist, Parker Sithole begins when he meets the undeniably gorgeous Nolitha Ngubane at a local tavern.

“Captivated by her beauty, an illicit affair ensues. However, there’s just one problem: Nolitha is one of Parker’s pupils and is just sixteen years older. Parker quickly spirals into lethal obsession.”

Durban’s film festival director Peter Machen said the film and publication board told them the “film contains a scene which constitutes child pornography and we are unable to legally show the film”.

I am very sorry about this. Out of respect for the director of the film, we will not be showing an alternative film tonight.”

He added: “It (the film) presents a story of a very real and troubling social problem of rampant abuse of position in our country.”

It has been reported that Qubeka intends to appeal against the decision, failing which, the film’s producer and lawyer Mike Auret would take it to the Constitutional Court.

Auret said: “It is not the function of state to moralise.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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