The Saftas still suck

2015-03-08 17:30

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The SA Film and Television Awards (Saftas) are supposed to be our Emmys and Oscars, but they remain a painful, pitiful, shameful and highly embarrassing letdown, a shocking concoction of bad that the organisers refuse to fix.

Instead of honouring and supporting the country’s film and TV industry when the Saftas take place for a ninth time on March 20 and 22, they will damage it. The awards never reflect the quality shows, best performers and behind-the scenes sloggers who bring the best to the small screen.

When the nominees for this year were announced at the end of last month in an amateurish event in a huddled corner of the Atlas Studios, I again had many questions for judging chairpersons Roberta Durrant, Jerry Mofokeng and National Film and Video Foundation chief executive Zama Mkosi (who wasn’t there, but busy in Brazil – another eye-popping blunder).

The biggest cringe of the Saftas, again produced by Clive Morris Productions, will be the lack of praise and recognition for the work we saw in the period when Nelson Mandela died. The 2015 Saftas are judging work between August 1 2013 and July 31 2014. Our Robyn Curnow on CNN International was the best. Carte Blanche’s tomb of special doccies on DStv On Demand was a treasure trove. Even the SABC rose to the occasion with moments of great TV. But none of this is on the nominees’ list.

It’s a lie when the Saftas say SABC1’s Generations is out this year because it was off air “for a considerable amount of time”. It was on every weekday in the judging period and gone for two months during October and December last year, outside the judging period.

Why is Skeem Saam, a youth drama, appearing in several soap categories, while Soul City, a show that’s almost exactly the same format, remains a TV drama and is nominated as such? Skeem Saam became a soap in December last year and shouldn’t be considered in any soap categories.

Soaps nominated include – as spelt by the Saftas – Binnerlanders (and Binelanders), Rhythym City and 7dde Laan. Of the three nominees for best game show, two are for dreadful advertiser-funded productions. They are usually never good TV because the long ads or infomercials masquerade as real TV without telling viewers. Are we saying the best game shows we can bring to TV are The Clover Little Big Cook Off and Tropika Island of Treasure?

At least “Nooit for Nooit” (can you hire a spellchecker, Saftas?) is nominated in the category for best presenter in a game show.

Charly’s Cake Angels is a nominee as best variety show – but it’s a reality show. Where is MasterChef SA, Survivor SA Champions and the wonderful Our Perfect Wedding if the terrible Kabelo’s Boot Camp has made it as a nominee?

Where is the deserving, well-made programming from the country’s community TV stations?

The brilliant Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola made it internationally as an Emmy nominee two years in a row, but isn’t good enough to feature in the best TV comedy or best presenter in a comedy, talk or variety show categories.

Satirical puppet show ZA News: Puppet Nation is nominated in best achievement in make-up and hair styling for a TV comedy. Make-up and hair – for puppets. Really?

Besides English and Afrikaans, there are almost no shows as nominees in any of the other languages. South Africa has 11 official languages and they are shown on TV. Is everything that’s not English or Afrikaans dismissible?

Our TV people deserve recognition. The daft systemic problems the Saftas won’t address – crazy category nominations, snubs, omissions and a shoddy modus operandi – damage our industry. And when the industry gets damaged, it ends up damaging viewers.

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