IN THE RUNNING: Rockville has clearly made a big impression on the judging panel for this years Saftas.
IN THE RUNNING: Rockville has clearly made a big impression on the judging panel for this years Saftas.

FOR the several years that I have been covering South Africa’s leading entertainment award ceremony, the South African Film and Television Awards, it has always been embroiled in some sort of controversy or the other.

This included media critics slating the nominee list for being grossly flawed and nonsensical.

Eight years in, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) appear to have got it right – well, almost!

First, I have to say getting acting veteran Jerry Mofokeng on board as one of the two overall judging chairpersons was a smart move. His wealth of experience and encyclopaedic knowledge of the TV and film mediums lends credibility to the awards ceremony.

Second, worth noting is the fact that, given the continued expansion of genres on the TV and film platforms, this year’s list is more encompassing. After all, it is about paying homage to the industry as a whole.

The ongoing debate about SABC shows getting more mileage as opposed to those on the pay channels is neither here nor there. The anomaly could be a result of those channels or production houses just not submitting any entries. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Right now, it is about who and what made the cut this year.

On the drama front, Intersexions: Season 2, Tempy Pushas, Rockville and Room 9 appear to be the favourites.

What’s perhaps most prominent about the choices is the fact that each one is so distinct, in terms of storylines. Although Intersexions has a very large fan base, new arrivals Rockville and Room 9 have also been hits.

In fact, both shows have been renewed for a second season, the first marking Africa’s darling celebrity couple, Connie and Shona Ferguson’s foray into producing and the latter offering a combination of paranormal and science with its occult detective unit. The show sparked curiosity by tapping into folk tales, too.

While it is awesome to see veteran Tina Jaxa (Intersexions) in the running for Best Actress in a TV Drama, Siyabonga Twala dominates both the TV and soap lists. He is up for a Best Actor in a TV drama for Intersexions and goes up against Antony Coleman (High Rollers) and Mthunzi Ntoyi (Montana ii). Perhaps his winning streak from the recent Royalty Soapie Awards will spill over to the Saftas.

On the soapie front, it is encouraging to see several of our leading homegrown offerings on the list for Best TV Soap (Public Vote).

I am curious to see if 7de Laan, which has always proved to be a hit with viewers, will take home the honours or if Isibaya will emerge as the new favourite.

Once again, SABC1’s Generations, the country’s leading soap according to audience ratings, doesn’t even make the cut in the major categories.

With the fledgling Isibaya bagging most of the nods, it will be interesting to see how it fares opposite SABC3’s Isidingo,’s Rhythm City and Scandal and M-Net’s The Wild (still don’t know why it made the list – as fantastic a soap as it was, it ended last year).

At this stage the Best Actress and Best Actor in a TV Soap gong is definitely going to go to Isibaya. It is just a question of to whom.

If nothing else, at least this year’s Safta winners can boast about their wins having merit.

That’s a giant stride for Saftas – and a huge compliment to the NFVF.