Saturday, April 27, 2019

The NFVF belatedly hands a win to the Someone to Blame documentary as the 13th Saftas Best Documentary Short prize; says it will try to improve its vetting and submission processes.

South Africa's embattled National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) on Thursday evening belatedly awarded Someone to Blame - The Ahmed Timol Inquest and producer Enver Michael Samuel's EMS Productions a Golden Horn trophy for 2019's 13th South African Film and Television Awards, with the organisation trying to fix the shambles, saying that it will try to improve its vetting and submission processes.

The NFVF's highly embarrassing and shambolic 13th Saftas once again had many problems, including the abrupt dumping of the Best Documentary Short category that wasn't awarded on the night in March 2019 - with no prior notification to the media or South Africa's film and TV industry.

The NFVF, Saftas organisers and its Instinctif PR agency paid to liaise and communicate to the media, took days to respond about the category's unexplained absence from the 13th Saftas.

In February the NFVF announced the three nominees in the Best Documentary short category as "Follow the Guns" from Combined Artistic Productions producing Carte Blanche on M-Net (DStv 101) and that broadcast it on Carte Blanche, Someone to Blame - the Ahmed Timol Inquest from EMS Productions CC that was seen on SABC3, and Scenes from a Dry City from SaltPeter Productions CC.

Then a content ownership fight started with the NFVF, funded by the department of arts and culture - without alerting the public - decided to withdraw the category from the 13th Saftas after it failed to do proper vetting of content entered into its Saftas competition.

Last week the NFVF said that M-Net's Carte Blanche entry in the Best Documentary Short category for the 13th Saftas has now been disqualified and removed and that the NFVF will now choose a winner from the remaining two nominees.

On Wednesday, giving the media only a day's notice, the NFVF's Instinctif PR agency invited the media to a belated prize-giving dinner at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton for the 13th Saftas in Johannesburg where Someone to Blame - the Ahmed Timol Inquest from EMS Productions CC was announced as the winner.

Makhosazana Khanyile, the new NFVF CEO, said that the NFVF will try to improve its vetting processes and submission criteria for the Saftas.

It's not clear why the NFVF, Saftas organisers, and the Saftas overall judging chairpersons, the producer Firdoze Bulbulia and actress and playwright Thembi Mtshali-Jones haven't been doing proper vetting of Saftas entries.

Meanwhile scandals like what happened with this year's Best Documentary Short category, continue to negatively impact the already-low credibility of the amateur-looking South African Film and Television Awards.

For the 13th Saftas producers and production companies once again kept to their boycott of the awards with more joining, with things like the botched Best Documentary Short process lending credence to upset producers who say that the organising, standards, and judging processes are simply not up to scratch.

"We are committed to relooking our processes, including our vetting and submission criteria to ensure that local filmmakers are provided with firm protection of their intellectual property right rights," said Makhosazana Khanyile.

Makhosazana Khanyile said the NFVF is "glad to have awarded this award to a very deserving winner" and that "Someone to Blame is an exceptional documentary, telling the important story of one of South Africa's liberation heroes".