Johannesburg - The ninth edition of the South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) takes place at the Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Sunday night.

National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) chief executive and Safta chairwoman Zama Mkosi expressed her elation for heading the biggest awards in the country which honour individuals in the film and TV industries.

“I feel excited about the awards, with the first on Friday a precursor to tonight.

“We have put together something out of this world and… get to see how much these awards mean to the people. We are in our ninth year and there is already excitement about the 10th edition next year,” said Mkosi.

“We have so many categories and we can’t do them all in one night, so it’s been split in two. We want to treat the people that are behind the camera just as well as we do those in front. On Friday, we had the technical awards and tonight we will have the creative awards,” she said.

Although Mkosi and her team had a whole year to prepare, she admitted the process was cumbersome but this had eased thanks to the inclusion of film and TV industry officials.

“The preparations were quite intense, as they always are, but the continued support of the industry helped to make it happen.

“The NFVF is the custodian of these awards and we want to do them to the best of our ability. That said, the consultative process with the film and TV industry delayed things as we need everyone’s input.

“The committee itself has different broadcasters and so you can imagine how that always comes with its own interesting issues, but we would not have it any other way as we want to be transparent,” said Mkosi. The Saftas come under fire every year and, with this in mind, Mkosi and her team have taken measures to address a number of issues. “The awards have not been without complaints. We did not want to be in denial about this. So we appointed a panel to make recommendations (to keep) in line with the changes in the industry,” she said.

The Saftas aspired to be world-class so measures had been put in place to achieve this.

“We benchmark the Saftas with some of the big international awards around the world. We partnered with the Emmys, and they advised us on how to improve. They came here and our judges took part in their awards. We learnt a few lessons,” said Mkosi.

She also said the judging process had been improved so as to avoid the backlash unleashed in the past.

“We needed to rectify the way we allocated our judges to be in line with their expertise… so winners are (assured) they have been chosen by their peers,” she explained.

More changes were also made to the public vote categories after concerns had been raised in the past.

“We moved the soapie from the public vote to the rest of the adjudication process because there was feedback from the industry… that the best people to judge these were the industry people themselves.

“We did not want to (ignore) the public because they are the recipients of the projects that the TV and film industry make. We introduced the presenter award for the public to decide who their favourite presenter is. We are still testing the water on these,” she said.

Contestants in this newly introduced category are Thembi Seete, Bonang Matheba, Lungile Radu, Phat Joe and Jeremy Maggs.

”We want to get to a place where nominees and winners insist on being addressed as Safta nominees or Safta winners. It has to be that prestigious,” said Mkosi.

This year’s entries increased by 7.3 percent, with 438 entries recorded. Categories to look out for include the best feature film where productions including iNumber Number, Four Corners, Faan se Trein, Hard To Get, Leading Lady and Winnie Mandela face off. In the best soapie category, Generations apparently opted out, thanks to the strike, and so the battle is between Isibaya, Isidingo, Skeem Saam and 7de Laan.

* The awards will be broadcast from 7.30pm on SABC2.

Independent Media