The uncompromising, documentary-style South African drama Accession, directed by Johannesburg native Michael J. Rix (Tengers), will screen at this year’s BFI London Film Festival (October 10-21) as part of its Dare section. The film, which premiered at the Durban International Film Festival this past July, will compete next at the 25th Tokyo International Film Festival in October.
Accession stars newcomer Pethro Themba Mbole as John, a promiscuous young man who, after realizing he may have contracted HIV, follows the advice of a friend and attempts to get rid of the virus by finding a virgin.
In an interview by ScreenAfrica back in March, director Rix said he was inspired by the real-life rapes of minors by HIV-positive men. “I have been shocked over the past few years by the number of reported incidences of the HIV/Aids-related rape of minors. As far as I know it’s a topic that’s never been dealt with on film before,” Rix stated.
Writer/director Rix, who shot principal photography on a RED camera and subsequent pickup scenes on a handy Canon 5D, said he wanted to delve into the heavy subject. “From a personal perspective I needed to tackle something a little weightier after the frivolousness of Mad Cow. I researched the subject and wrote the script for Accession. The film has a fairly low budget (figure undisclosed) and is funded by private investors,” explained Rix.
A deeply shocking but masterfully accomplished film that follows the lengths to which an HIV-positive man will go in order to try and cure himself of the virus. John is an unemployed twenty-something hoodlum who lives alone in a nondescript shack in the small South African town of Duduza. The hand-held camera stays with John (unflinchingly played by Pethro Themba Mbole) as he stops and chats with his friends, and shares beers and street food with them. But he also indulges in unprotected, passionless sex several times in his shack or around the fields nearby with any of the local girls he meets. He later finds out that one of these women is HIV-positive. When a friend tells him that sex with a virgin is an instant cure, John follows that option; and the nightmare begins.
There is a trailer for it, but it’s not embeddable; so you’ll have to click HERE to watch it.