Saftas broadcast sinks again

As in previous years, the TV broadcast of the South African Film and Television Awards was a sinker: Glamorous people on deck for a disastrous awards ceremony that kept sinking deeper into sea of embarrassment.

From the sad and completely amateur way in which both the production was executed on Saturday (the event was recorded and edited and shown on Sunday on SABC3), as well as the actual broadcast, it is a very clear and lamentable indictment of how spectacularly far South Africa's TV industry has fallen when it comes to the production and broadcast of big made-for-TV awards shows.

As the atrocious Saftas (and sister Samas and others) show, South Africa has indeed fallen very far; willing to settle for mediocrity and sub par, stereotyped and ill-executed showmanship. Are the Channel O Music Video Awards really all that can still score a passing grade when it comes to locally produced and televised TV award shows?

The laughable production had people constantly walking around in front of camera and in front of presenters during the actual ceremony. You will never see it from a polished, well-produced show like the Emmys or Oscars.

Hamming it up

The actual ceremony was preceded by an absolutely ill-suited and camp Terence Bridgett hamming it up on a sparse, middle-of-nowhere red carpet, with more hand windmill waves than a hyperactive YO-TV presenter.

It was embarrassing and cringeworthy to watch, making it painfully clear that all that South African wannabe red carpet interviewers really know of how to behave has been gleaned from watching third-rate red carpet coverage on television without having any real experience of doing so.

They got one thing right...

The Michael Gill set design for the Saftas was absolutely beautiful and possibly the only part of the wholly sub-standard production that stood out as magnificent, carefully crafted, beautifully designed and appropriately befitting of the stature of what the Saftas supposedly want to exude.

The Michael Gill Designs Saftas stage was miles better than anything else the production gave viewers at home to see or for the Gallagher Estate audience in attendance.

Big video walls flanked a beautifully curved shield-like triangle sprouting into the audience and connected with a narrow walkway. Functionally and aesthetically it had the wow-factor, unlike the humans who walked on it.

So tedious and drawn out was the Saftas broadcast - which started at 19:30 - that viewers only saw the first award handed out an hour later at 20:27.

Unintentionally funny? The bald Riaan Garforth-Venter as presenter of the Best Hairstylist award.

It's always very difficult for producers to get winners to keep acceptance speeches short during a live show, but the edited version simply cut and culled mercilessly in the worst ways. Horrible editing created a 'how-bad-is-this?' broadcast that made me feel that first year film students on an analogue tape deck would have edited this mess better.

Ruining a beautiful moment

The most shocking moment - which could have been the emotional cornerstone of the 6th Saftas award show broadcast - was when Siyabonga Radebe won the Best Actor award as Muzi in Intersexions. A beautiful could-be moment was tragically and amateurishly killed.

The jubilant actor wanted to rush off the stage to go and hug his crying mother sitting at a table in the audience. He was almost off the stage with his trophy when the daft trophy model unprofessionally yanked him back, prevented him from going into the audience, and pushed him to the opposite side of the stage.

The shocking In Memoriam segment was nothing short of an embarrassment. All the dearly departed deserved so much better. The names and details of industry people who’ve died wasn’t even legible on television. And if it wasn't made for people and viewers at home, why broadcast this in the first place?

The oddest thing was the loud crowd applause and jubilant cheers at the Saftas. The camera would pan with roaring applause while viewers would hardly see anyone actually clapping and people just sitting. Was there possibly a sitcom clap track added? And what sounded like canned clapping would stop perfectly when presenters started talking. All too weird.

Then there's the horrible way the film awards got squeezed in as an afterthought. And Vusi Kunene, could you take your hands out of the pockets of your beautiful suit and please read through what you're asked to read on the teleprompter before you do it? How disrespectful to the audience both there and at home.

Over time

The Saftas which, when previously broadcast always ran far over, once again did so, although this time it wasn’t even an uncontrollable live broadcast but an edited show. Still the producers couldn't get it to run on time.

The 2012 Saftas that was supposed to end at 21:30 on SABC3 ran the end credits of the shoddy show at 21:48. Viewers who recorded the show wouldn’t have seen the inappropriate "I'm hungry" end, which is probably just as well.

The wholly inappropriate musical acts for a film and television awards show, which was supposed to be a glossy, classy affair, aren't even worth mentioning.  No subtitles for the un-funny comedy duo. Two female co-hosts, Bridget Masinga and Jeannie D, provided nothing more than mere lip service. What a disappointment.

One can only sigh at the Saftas; an awards show broadcast that should have been so much better.

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