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Roll out the red carpet; the South African Film and Television Awards are taking place this month, with some strong contenders in the local industries. Life Above All and Spud are hot favourites to win.
IT’S awards season in the film and television industry around the world, and in Joburg, the fifth annual South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) will be handed out in two separate ceremonies this month.

Awards in the non-fiction categories will be handed out on 20 February, and those in the fiction categories will be handed out a week later, on 27 February. Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams at Melrose Arch will add some pizzazz to the proceedings by hosting both ceremonies.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is the custodian of the awards, which aim to honour and promote South African television and film talent and encourage the development of new talent and entrepreneurship in the industries.

“With commitment to supporting the industry by Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, we are guaranteed that the industry will grow to its full potential as a business sector and an economic contributor to the country,” said the chief executive officer of the NFVF, Eddie Mbalo.

It seems that the industry has grown tremendously in the past year already, with 18 feature films submitted for consideration in this year’s awards. This is triple the number put forward in the same category last year.

Nominees fighting for contention this year include internationally recognised works such as Life Above All and Spud.

Life Above All has garnered an impressive but unsurprising 11 nominations, making it the favourite in the movie category. It started to attract attention at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and was named in the top nine for Best Foreign Language Film in the 2011 Academy Awards, although it just missed out on a nomination.

Spud follows with six nominations, hopeful in the best cinematographer, editor, sound designer, leading actor, supporting actor and feature film categories.

Giving Spud a run for its money with a matching six nominations is Jozi, featuring Carl Beukes as a comedy writer who loses the plot and his sense of humour because he lives in Johannesburg. The movie is up for best feature film, supporting actor, sound designer, ensemble, writer or writing team and best director.

The TV Soap category is also offering some stiff competition, with firm favourites Isidingo and Rhythm City sitting pretty at 10 and six nominations, respectively. Competition will be tight, with the two fighting it out in the best directing team, writing team, ensemble, lead actor and actress and supporting actress categories.

Isidingo will also be hoping for glory in the best lead actor and supporting actor sections.

Other genres in the spotlight are wildlife; documentary; student, short and animation films; TV drama; youth and children; factual/educational programme; talk, variety, reality, magazine, sports and game shows; and comedy.

For those that are serious about their soapies, the SMS voting line opens on 14 February and will close on 25 February.

Viewers can have their say and ensure their favourite soapies are rewarded by sending an SMS to 34877. To vote people can SMS “Soapie” followed by the name of the soap. People are restricted to 10 votes per cellphone number, and each SMS costs R2.
The categories that the public may vote in are: best soapie, best hero/heroine, best comic, best dressed and best villain/villainess.

In the best soapie section, contenders are Isidingo, Muvhango, Generations, 7 de Laan, Rhythm City and Scandal.

Connie Ferguson and Menzi Ngubane who star as Karabo Moroka and Sibusiso Dlomo aka Ngamla, in Generations, will slog it out with Jack Devnarain of Isidingo for best hero/heroine.

Sophie Ndaba, who acts as Queen in Generations, Mpho Molepo as Fats in Rhythm City and Diaan Lawrenson as Paula in 7 de Laan are the choices for best comic. Best dressed is a battle between Ferguson, Katlego Danke as Dineo Mashaba in Generations and KB Motsilanyane as Lucila Vilakazi in Rhythm City.

Finally, for the characters that everyone loves to hate, is the competition for best villain/villainess. Barker Haines, played by Robert Whitehead, in Isidingo; Doobsie Mukwevho, played by Khabonina Qubeka, in Muvhango; and David Genaro, played by Jamie Bartlett, in Rhythm City are fiction’s favourite foes for viewers to choose from.

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