The controversial gay Xhosa drama Inxeba (The Wound) stunned critics and delighted fans when it swept the boards in the film categories at the annual SA Film and Television Awards (Saftas) at Sun City last night.
Isibaya, Puppet Nation ZA and Tjovitjo, meanwhile, dominated the TV categories.
The three-day Safta event was more toned down and less well-organised than usual, but the same was not true of the work in competition.
Inxeba’s producers were beaming after the once-banned film, that is currently the subject of a court case, lifted the Gold Horns for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Nakhane) and Best Supporting Actor (Bongile Mantsai).
Its win for Best Editing at Thursday night’s technical awards brings its Safta tally to six and its total awards tally around the world to 25.
This is Nakhane’s fourth best actor nod for his role as Xolani, a conflicted factory worker who finds himself in a gay love triangle on the mountain during initiation season.
In a prerecorded message from London, where he is promoting his second album, the singer and actor thanked his family, friends and boyfriend “for loving me when it felt like my life was falling apart”.
He thanked those who didn’t like the film for “starting a conversation that needed to be started”.
Inxeba became the target of protests by Xhosa men angry about its subject matter. It was the subject of an appeal at the Film and Publication Board, where it was rated as pornography and effectively banned from circuit.
The producers took the board’s appeal body to court. While the case is pending, all parties agreed to release the film with an 18 rating.
Crystal-Donna Roberts won Best Actress in a Feature Film for Krotoa. Kalushi, about the life of freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu, picked up three technical awards.
Top documentary went to Skulls of my People, Vincent Moloi’s film about the Namibian genocide.
Tjovitjo vs Isibaya
Moloi was beaming as broadly as the Inxeba crew after last night’s main awards, because his ground-breaking independently produced and financed TV series Tjovitjo, was one of the night’s biggest winners.
The story about a crew of dancers lifted Best TV Drama and Best Actor in a TV Drama trophy for Warren Masemola. Its four technical awards took its total to six.
The gorgeous Thuso Mbedu, star of the series Is’thunzi, was named Best Actress in a TV Drama – a role that has her up for a daytime Emmy award in the US.
Tjovitjo’s strongest competition came from Isibaya, the KwaZulu-Natal family drama set in the taxi industry.
Isibaya won Best Soap, Best Directing in a Soap or Telenovela and Best Supporting Actor for heart-throb Pallance Dladla.
Two technical awards took its total to five.
The third and final season of gambling drama High Rollers was named Best Telenovela – despite being axed by the SABC.
The Afrikaans telenovela Suidooster lifted two awards.
Gangster series iNumber Number secured a Best Director in a TV Drama nod.
The effervescent Pabi Moloi, meanwhile, was named Best Talk Show Host for her work on SABC 3 talk show Trending SA, beating off Masechaba Ndlovu and Karen Zoid for the Golden Horn.
Puppets get the last laugh
In the TV comedy categories it was once again the spicy political satire of Puppet Nation ZA that decimated its competition.
The renegade Cape Town comedy operation has been gracing screens since 2008, consistently picking up awards.
Last night, it won another three, for Best TV Comedy and Best Directing and Best Writing in a TV Comedy.
Its four technical awards from Thursday night make it the single biggest winner at this year’s Saftas.
The sitcom Gauteng Maboneng picked up two acting awards.
Full list of winners: