The South African Film and Television Awards, SAFTAs, has become the paramount celebration of professionals in the industry for the past 10 years.
These awards continue to acknowledge and reward exceptional creativity, innovation, quality and excellence.
We are pleased that the theme for 2016 is “Imagine” as this takes us into a new space and time of planning for the future and re-inventing the SAFTAS after its first ten years of existence.
Hence there is also a new look for the awards, that pays homage to the one thing that film and television professionals yearn for – the Golden Horn.
The past decade has seen a rapid development in cultural creative industries. Part of this success is due to the integration and cooperation of various sectors, and especially the collective effort and teamwork of the film and television industry. Film and television have created employment, but have also impacted in a positive way on tourism and local economic development.
In South Africa in recent months we have been seized with the challenges facing local filmmakers around distribution and exhibitions. But out of these robust engagements, we are moving towards improving the industry and putting systems in place for the further transformation of the sector.
Local content must continue to be supported and to find its homes in spaces not only in the city centres and suburbs, but also in the townships and rural areas of our land. Clearly we still need to do far more to increase the spaces and platforms available to tell our own stories.
In film making, this local content incorporates a range of training areas, not limited to scriptwriting, directing, camera, sound, editing, post-production, but including distribution and marketing with local content distribution strategies and channels.
Local content also promotes cultural diversity, encourages social cohesion and uses local languages and idioms.
Our film and television programmes can transmit cultural understanding, impart information and strengthen democracy. Thus it is also important to note that at this year’s SAFTAS there are new special recognition categories to strengthen the diversity agenda. But more can and must still be done to ensure transformation.
It is important that the awards continue to address both the film and television’s growing needs, the local content needs of viewers and audiences, and are aligned to the NFVF’s mandate of growing and developing the industry and to the National Development Plan.
The SAFTAS is taking place at a time when in recent months South Africa has experienced an upsurge in racism. We ask the film and television industry to join us as we build a “South Africa United Against Racism.”
Human Rights Day will be a National Day of Action against racism. Let us pledge to work together in this sector to eradicate racism.
The power of film and television is such that it conveys messages seemingly so effortlessly, and we need this powerful visual medium to change mindsets, to expand our cultural imagination and to derive a better sense of who we are as South Africans, as part of a growing African continent, and in the wider world.
I congratulate all the SAFTA winners for their outstanding work and also all the finalists – because even to have come so far is a mark of greatness.
May the SAFTAS go from strength to strength in this new era of its history and I wish the SAFTAs a happy tenth birthday.