“The Wound”- International Film Fest

University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Phillip “Pip” Gordon introduced “The Wound” as the fourth movie in a sequence of five movies chosen for 2018’s International Film Festival. The audience consisted of approximately 40 UW-Platteville students, faculty, alumni and Platteville community members.

“I opened up theadvocate.com, the major LGBT magazine in this country, and the top article that day was about a new South African film that had just been released at a small film festival called ‘The Wound,’ and it had a 1-minute clip and I watched the clip and I was like, ‘this is awesome.’ I emailed the clip to David [Gillota] to see if we could consider including it,” assistant professor of English Phillip “Pip” Gordon said.

“The Wound” is a movie based in South Africa’s Xhosa culture following Xolani, or “X”, who goes to the mountains to act as a caretaker to an initiate during a rite of passage into manhood called Ukwaluko. Ukwaluko emphasizes masculinity while the initiates go through a circumcision ritual and spend two weeks healing their wound as a rite of passage into manhood. “X”’s initiate is a gay city boy named Kwanda who questions the Xhosa process and the definition of masculinity. Kwanda figures out “X”’s secret homosexual relationship with another caretaker named Vija. A major focus of Ukwaluko is put on the male genitalia and how it represents masculinity. Due to being outed, “X” begins to unravel emotionally while trying to maintain his masculinity and manhood. Though Kwanda keeps “X”’s secret, ultimately “X” kills him to keep the secret.

After the movie, Gordon discussed what he thought what was pertinent to the film and opened the floor to questions.

“Since the theme of the film festival was crossing borders/pushing boundaries, I wanted to make sure that the focus was not just on LGBT items by themselves. I wanted to try to make sure that the frame of reference was for the topic of the film festival. I was assuming that people would be attending the festival because of that theme and I just wanted to make sure that’s what we were talking about,” Gordon said.

“The theme of Crossing Borders and pushing boundaries is not just a matter of migrating from one country to another. It’s not always physical movement and this film is actually a tragedy in that they don’t push the boundaries. The person to push the boundaries ends up dead at the end of the film. The film is a South African film, it’s from a culture and language in Xhosa and it’s very much about a ritual that’s completely outside of a Western frame of reference. Nonetheless, it’s about boundaries of masculinity and proper manhood that are very relatable even within our society today. One can watch the film visually and understand exactly what the dynamics are and where the conflict emerges and how the tragedy comes about and I think that’s a takeaway from a film like this. That we can reach across different cultures and still see ways in which the paradigms that define are stifling across the board,” Gordon said.

“The Wound” is available for viewing on Netflix.