The Saftas come of age this year

2015-03-20 11:12

Cape Town - In trying to keep up with the trends and spice things up a little, the ninth South African Film Television Awards will see a new category that seeks to recognise TV presenters, voted for by the public.

While Sunday’s awards have been met with mixed feelings, and nomination processes have been described as flawed, it is no doubt that to South African actors a Golden Horn trophy is the ultimate sign of recognition.

City Press took time out to speak to Saftas chairperson Zama Mkosi on the changes and the relevance of the awards ahead of the ceremony on the weekend.

The ninth annual South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) has introduced a new best presenter award voted for by the public, what has been the process behind this innovation?

As the film and television industry is growing, the Saftas committee saw the need to be in line with the industry growth. The committee decided on a new category that would recognise individual talent.

What is your involvement in the Saftas for those who are not aware?

The National Film and Video Foundation is the custodian of South African film both locally and globally. As a film custodian, one of our roles is to administer the South African film and television awards. As the chief executive of the National Film and Video Foundation, I sit on the Saftas committee as the chairperson. This committee comprises broadcasters and industry bodies.

What level of preparation is involved in putting together an event of this kind?

The Saftas take a year to prepare. When we finish with this current year’s awards, we start preparing for the next year to ensure that all is in order. The process begins with the review of the guidelines; this process is followed by a call to the industry to submit their entries. After receiving the entries we move to filtration judging which is followed by the actual judging. The Saftas judging panel comprises past and present winners as well as industry professionals.

Why have you gone with the theme “coming of age”?

In the previous year we celebrated 20 years of freedom; 20 years of telling our stories after our country gained its democracy. This is a time where we are proud to stand tall and declare that we have made immense strides. Our content, both on film and television; technical aspects including make-up, sound and visual effects; pre- and post-production; crew and talent, all play a significant role in the telling of our stories.

We have reached a point where international productions come to South Africa in pursuit of our talent, the use of our locations and studios and thereby contributing positively to our economy. Indeed, we have Come of Age, a period where our successful productions have tremendous emotional and intellectual effect on the viewers both locally and around the world.

How have the awards evolved since inception?

The awards have continued to grow each year. This is also an indication of the industry growth. The number of submissions received each year attest to the growth of the awards; also the nominees and recipients of the Golden Horn are recognised even more after being acknowledged by the awards. This year we received 438 entries, a steady increase from last year.

What are current and previous challenges?

Funding of the awards remains a challenge. The Saftas are currently funded by the National Film and Video Foundation, however we constantly appeal to the private sector to support the awards.

With the advent of pay TV and digital migration how big is the TV and film industry in the country?

This is a positive development for both TV and film because it encourages us to produce more content.

What does it mean for the industry and the economy of the country?

Film and TV industries contribute immensely to the economy of our country. Producing films, working together with foreign partners in co-produced projects, using South Africa as a location … all these elements ensure that the arts sector plays an important role in our gross domestic product.

What is National Film and Video Foundation’s key focus to grow the industry so that more people are involved or employed?

Our key focus is on developing people from previously disadvantaged communities. For the past three years we have created opportunities for youth and women, with the objective of transforming the industry. We have created slates, youth filmmaker projects and women filmmaker projects, out of which we contributed to filling the gap that was evident in our industry. We have seen films like Hard to Get and Hear me Move being produced and directed by young black filmmakers.

Any new developments that people should know about as far as the ceremony is involved?

You will notice from the nominees that the talent for Saftas 2015 is very high. This was affected by the way the judging was done. We changed how productions entered the Saftas. There is also the new best presenter award where for the first time the public will get to vote for their favourite presenter by texting the corresponding number to their number one presenter.

The ninth annual Saftas take place from Friday with the main event happening on Sunday at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. You can watch it live 19:30 on SABC 2.

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