Simon Sabela Awards Honour Outstanding Filmmakers

by Benice BurgerJuly 17, 2017

Excitement was in the air when people arrived for the Simon Mabhunu Sabela awards in Durban. The awards honour those who brought change to the film industry, like late writer and film producer Sabela who was the first black Film Director.

The awards are held annually and give a platform to KwaZulu-Natal filmmakers while acknowledging their outstanding achievements. Mazwi Xaba from rural Willowfontein in the Midlands has snatched the best documentary award for his film titled ‘Scars of Seven Days’. Xaba says his film focuses on an important part of the history of the Midlands.

“This award is a best documentary film; the title is the scars of seven days, and briefly speaking about when there was outbreak violence in Pietermaritzburg in 1990 from March 25 to March 31. In that political violence more than 80 people lost their lives and more than 20 000 people were left homeless. This documentary is all about that,” he says.

The provincial government has encouraged filmmakers to feature KwaZulu-Natal townships and rural areas in their films as part of promoting the province. A young woman filmmaker Xolisisle Mhlongo from Inanda Newtown has taken the award for ‘Best use of a KZN location’.

Mhlongo featured the Bhambayi informal settlement in Inanda in her film titled Imbali ka Baba. She says although there are still challenges, women are capable of being in the driver’s seat in producing a film.

“This award is for best use of location of KZN. We had it because we used the location best, the Bhambayi, a squatter camp. Most people don’t use those places; we used it because we use those places daily. Just imagine being a woman having children but also able to not only write best film but winning the awards. I am proud to be a winner, it shows that women can do it all like all other genders. I am feeling on top of the world,” she says.

KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism MEC Sihle Zikalala say the awards help unearth talent and skills from residents of KwaZulu-Natal, while honouring some of the provinces shining stars in the film and television industry.

“These awards which focus on film and television industry seek to promote firstly the legacy of Mr Mabhunu Sabela who was the producer and played a very critical role in promoting the film industry. More than that they seek to ensure that we promote the talent first. We seek to acknowledge the contribution of those excelling and who pioneer the KZN,” Zikalala says.


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Benice Burger