'Black producers are demanding their place at the main table'
The Safta’s have been criticized yet again for a supposed lack of representation.
JOHANNESBURG - South African scriptwriter Phatu Makwarela has criticised the latest group of nominees selected by a 2016 panel of judges for the South African Television and Film Awards, saying there is a clear lack of fair representation.
The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) through the Safta's will honour the best of local TV and film in its tenth annual ceremony next month.
Makwarela, who is a scriptwriter for the series Skeem Saam and Uzalo, which have garnered top prime time viewing figures over the last year, was one of the first to voice his concern in a tweet yesterday.
- PhathuMakwarela (@PhathuMakwarela) February 18, 2016
Explaining his stance on the awards show Makwarela says while his views do not represent the entire 'black fraternity' the feeling is that the Safta's are discriminatory.
"For five years straight, no single black produced show has won best drama or best soapie. All the shows that have won are produced by white production companies and for years black producers, they are disgruntled with the Safta's, but they don't want to seem bitter. "
He says there needs to be more transparency in the judging process.
"Skeem Saam does very well; it owns the 6:30pm time slot to appoint that it forced e.tv to change their prime time slot because Rhythm City could no longer compete but Rhythm City gets nominated year in and year out."
Makwarela says the TV landscape needs to be transformed.
"For years, South African TV was produced by white producers and what you have seen happen is that black producers are aggressively demanding their place at the main table and the old guard struggles with that."
Listen: #SAFTAsSoWhite? - Phathu Makwarela gives his take on the TV awards nominees
This not the first time the awards have been called out on their choice of nominees.
During last year's awards ceremony, viewers had their share of comments, with some referring to the event as a 'lily white affair'.
CEO of the NFVF, Zama Mkosi, says they have tried to maintain an open decision-making process over the years.
"It is a thorough process that is handled over a long period of time and it doesn't start with the judging. We head up a committee and in that committee there is the South African industry and there are guidelines that guide how the entries are done… the nominations, the rules on the judging and those are made public way before there is a call for nominations."
Commenting on the judging panel, Mkosi says, "The guidelines provide that you will have people of a particular skill judging that particular skill. The judges are not just selected by the NFVF and it is also important for us that those judges are representatives of our country's demographics, we go through great lengths to make sure that panels are as mixed as possible."
She says people are called to give their input on what should be done differently after each award ceremony.
"People will notice that if they really interrogate the rules and the regulations, there have been changes that have been done over the years and those changes have been as a result of input and feedback that has been received from industry in terms of what they feel works and doesn't work."
Judging was held in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town, with 2016 Jury Chairpersons Zanele Mthembu, Jerry Mofokeng and Robbie Thorpe overseeing the process and guiding the panel of judges.
Listen: #SAFTAs: The National Film and Video Foundation explains the judging process