NFVF responds over shoddy 12th Saftas: To err is human

Cape Town – The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is responding over the 12th South African Film and Television Awards held at Sun City that was once again a shoddy, mistake-riddled awards show, saying that "to err is human".

The 12th Saftas that took place from 22 to 24 March at Sun City was boycotted by some of South Africa's biggest TV productions like SABC1's Generations and SABC2's Muvhango.

It once again caused controversy that ranged from unhappiness over category winners, bad organisation, questions around the waste of money, how the press is treated, as well as what the return on the investment is that the NFVF gets from the media.

As in previous years, the live Saturday broadcast of the 12th Saftas on SABC2, hastily produced by attv after a late tender was awarded, was marred by a litany of the same embarrassing mistakes, damaging the image of the industry it's supposed to showcase.

Viewers watched as the 12th Saftas showing empty chairs and people milling about during the telecast, ran far over over time and was filled with audio, visual and script mistakes and problems. 

Wrong names were called out, there was wrong pronunciation, wrong footage roll were being shown, and names were embarrassingly left out of the In Memoriam segment while the co-hosts, category presenters and winners apologised on-air for problems and mistakes.

READ NEXT: All the winners at the 2018 Saftas

The same range of technical mistakes happened on the Thursday evening for the Saftas "technical" awards night that wasn't broadcast on TV but was also described as amateurish by those who attended.

In a media enquiry, Channel24 asked the NFVF why there were so many mistakes during the first as well as the second awards night – the same range of mistakes as in previous years – and why the NFVF and Saftas organisers are not improving on decreasing these easily preventable mistakes.

"To err is human, some errors always occur during live broadcasts unfortunately," said Zama Mkosi, NFVF CEO Zama Mkosi who also got an executive producer title for the production of the 12th Saftas.

As to why names were again left out of the In Memoriam segment at the Saftas the NFVF responded by saying that "each year a concerted effort is made to the research of those practitioners who have passed on. The film industry representatives are also invited to submit colleagues' names".

Responding to claims that the media room at the Saftas had its sound cut off mid-show with journalists who couldn't hear anything or what winners accepting their awards had to say, the NFVF says "no sound was scheduled for the media room for the entire event neither on Thursday nor Saturday".

The NFVF and Saftas apparently also cancelled presentations due to electricity problems and didn't have any back-up plan.

"A general electricity failure was experienced in Rustenburg, therefore Ster-Kinekor decided it would be best to cancel the screening of the Black Panther movie scheduled for 10:00 in the Waterfall Mall. The children from various North West province's villages, townships and small dorpies (VTSD) schools in the area were offered tickets for another day," said the NFVF.

The Saftas held a high tea session on Friday 23 March at The Palace at Sun City hosted by Zama Mkosi, where women spoke about inequality within South Africa's arts and TV and film industry, the lack of gender and racial transformation and the #MeToo movement although there's been no articles or reports about what exactly was said and discussed. 

The NFVF was asked for a press release and if a transcript of what was said at the event is available.

In response the NFVF says "20 media only were invited and hosted across the board" and that "there is no press release or transcript available". Asked about the lack of coverage for the event and if the NFVF and Saftas are happy with the return on investment it got from the press, the NFVF says "as there was no release issued therefore no coverage was expected".


In a fascinating two-part behind-the-scenes article that Prudence Mathebula wrote for TVSA detailing the lavish way some invited journalists were fêted with deluxe hotel rooms, food and gift-filled goody bags yet showing up late to cover both award show evenings, the NFVF was asked why it didn't make sure that these invited journalists arrived on time.

"The media invited by the NFVF were issued a timetable of the day's events on both Thursday and Saturday," said the NFVF that noted that press were advised of the times of their required presence at events.

"It is estimated that the media presence reached 150 people over both evenings. Trying to contact that amount of people on an extended area like Sun City, to ensure they all attend events timeously, is no easy task."

On Thursday evening, V Entertainment on 1Magic (DStv 103) devoted the episode to a roundtable discussion about the things that are wrong with the NFVF's Saftas and award shows in South Africa. (Watch it here)

"The categories aren't categorised properly. That's my first issue with it," said ChiChi Letswalo, Isithembiso actress, who was one of the panelists.

"So you just have somebody who's doing a different type of show, up against someone who's doing another kind of show, and it doesn’t make sense. The way it's structured is not proper for me. And I honestly believe that it's more about the dresses that you're wearing and the pictures that you're going to be taking versus the actual talent."

"The awards need to be serious to begin with," said ChiChi. "Like what we receive needs to be taken very, very seriously and I don't think it's being taken seriously."

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