Wednesday, February 8, 2017

NFVF says that the 2017 South African Film and Television Awards 'supports all SA TV soaps' after Muvhango, Skeem Saam decide not to enter.

The South African Film and Television Awards says that it supports all South African TV soaps, responding after the awards show is again courting controversy by blocking South Africans from voting for Muvhango and Skeem Saam as Most Popular TV Soap after these shows decided not to make entries in other categories.

The SABC's Venda weekday soap Muvhango on SABC2 produced by Word of Mouth Productions that's boycotting the Saftas for a third time, slammed the award show's judging process with associate producer Morishe Matlejoane calling it "just not fair".

Meanwhile last year's winner, the SABC's Skeem Saam on SABC1, is ironically also locked out of the 11th Saftas. In a statement the youth soap says it didn't enter the 2017 Saftas, rather wanting to focus its efforts on production and that it "had to prioritise what is meaningful for the betterment of the series".

In previous years the Saftas, organised by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), has come in for repeated criticism every year about how the award show is run, how shows are nominated and selected, how they're judged, who the judges are and over the perceived exclusion of women, minorities and smaller – especially black – producers.

In response to media enquiries made last week about Muvhango and Skeem Saam's choice not wanting to enter the 11th Saftas taking place from 16 to 18 March at Sun City, the NFVF tells TVwithThinus that the NFVF "is in full support of all TV soaps in South Africa, as well as recognising the efforts made by Muvhango and Skeem Saam".

It however remains unclear how these shows can possibly get recognised for their efforts, or voted for by viewers, and how the eventual winner can be credible, if the NFVF deliberately omits Muvhango and Skeem Saam from the Most Popular TV soap category - two shows with massive popular viewership on television.

In previous years, not just shows but also various broadcasters boycotted the Saftas, ranging from to M-Net citing concerns with the award show's judging and processes.

The NFVF was asked what it has done to make improvements since Muvhango decided to boycott the Saftas in 2016 (and in 2014).

"The NFVF has taken liberty to recognise room of improvement in making sure that the film industry is serviced in a manner that can be satisfactory to South Africa," says the organisation.

"With the 11th Saftas championing the vision of improved collaboration, The NFVF has appointed over 181 judges across the industry which include members within the industry to adjudicate a fair voting process that started in December 2016."

"The 2017 Saftas judging process has been under the directorship and guidance from industry practitioners such as Jerry Mofokeng, Dr John Kani and Firdoze Bulbulia. All the auditing for the 11th Saftas judging process has been officially procured by PricewaterhouseCoopers South Africa."

"To date, the 11th Saftas nominations have received more than 441 submissions from production houses across the country ranging from 89 categories across feature films, animation film, special public vote, and most popular TV presenter," says the NFVF.

"The NFVF judging committee also consists of credible affiliates and stakeholders which are CCISFA, Sasfed,, SABC and M-Net."

Saftas: Judging process improvedThe NFVF says it "is confident that the improvement to the judging process which has been implemented across the country with dedicated teams assigned to educate and induct the film industry through workshops during 2016 has assisting with clearer communication."

Critics say the Saftas judges  - who are not known and whose names are not publicised - should be people who watch TV and film all-year round and be knowledgeable enough to nominate shows and talent based on work without the Saftas being fully dependent on productions having to enter for possible recognition.

With an over-emphasis on TV soaps, productions don't understand why they're forced to enter instead of having their work speak for itself, while criticism also centres around the NFVF not doing enough to create Safta categories and find nominees in areas where their inclusion and wins will grow under-developed and under-represented production fields.

For the 2017 Saftas the NFVF scrapped categories like Best Sports Show, Best Animation film and Best TV animation, saying South Africa lacks adequate submissions in these TV and film fields.
Categories to reward work within news and actuality remain almost non-existent with no recognition of TV news anchors and TV journalists.

The 2017 Saftas added Best TV Talk show host and Best Micro film as new categories, as well as the New Discretionary Award going to a youth achiever.