The winners of the 2009 M-Net Vuka! Awards were announced, earlier this week, at an event at Johannesburg's Bassline. The awards serve as a platform to reward and nurture South Africa's filmmaking talent while providing vital exposure to social causes and charities via Public Service Announcements (PSAs).
There are three categories to the M-Net Vuka! Awards: “Newcomers”, which welcomes entries from student filmmakers and creatives; the new “Contenders” category, for filmmakers aged 20 to 28 who are not yet established in the industry; and “Professionals” for established filmmakers and creatives. Within each category, awards are made for the various aspects of production and development, including “Best Direction” and “Best Script”.
Best Overall PSA
Best Overall PSA for the 2009 M-Net Vuka! Awards in the Professional category was Conflict Diamonds, from Young & Rubicam Cape Town, in association with Blue Panther films and directed by Grant de Souza. Produced on behalf of the African Diamond Council, Conflict Diamonds is a hard-hitting PSA that perfectly illustrates the human cost to the underground diamond trade. Conflict Diamonds scooped five of the eight awards in the category: Best Overall, Best Concept, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Design/Original Music and Best Editing - and also claimed a spot in the newly established M-Net Vuka! Hall of Fame. A permanent installation at M-Net's Randburg headquarters, the Hall of Fame houses tapestries representing the concepts behind each winning PSA alongside a video loop of the work itself.
Responsible alcohol use
21st Birthday, entered by Lowe Bull Cape Town, produced by Velocity Films and directed by Anton Visser for the Industry Association For Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) picked up awards for Best Direction and Best Script. The three-part series of PSAs, which also includes Sports Day and Roadblock, illustrates the heart-wrenching effects of alcoholism in everyday life.
Experiment, entered by Adrian Bergoff and Garreth Bird, who co-directed for Filament Film on behalf of the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre, won the Best Animation award for its intelligent use of modern and concise animation in conveying its serious message.
It's Getting Hot In Here
The Contender category Best Overall winner, It's Getting Hot In Here by Taryn Scher and Renier Zandberg with Ogilvy SA, directed by Jonty Fine, on behalf of Oxfam Global Warming, takes a humorous look at the serious topic of global warming and delivers a knock-out message with finesse. It's Getting Hot In Here also took the awards for Best Concept and Best Use of Humour in the Contender category.
Young Lions challenge
Two members of the team behind It's Getting Hot In Here receive automatic entry into the Cannes Young Lions challenge in June 2010, where they will network with, and compete against, the world's finest young creative talent. Their trip is facilitated by Cinemark and the team will have all their expenses paid by M-Net.
Silent Killer, directed by Grant Paul Roy for Silver Bullet Productions, on behalf of Heart & Stroke Foundation SA, picked up the Best Cinematography award.
The Newcomer category was dominated by Moses, which picked up six of the nine awards on offer, including Best Overall, Best Direction, Best Script, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Design/Original Music and Best Editing. Entered and directed by Alan Shelley from City Varsity Cape Town on behalf of the St Kizito Children's Programme, Moses uses biblical references to illustrate the cause of unwanted children.
Other winners in the Newcomer category were: The Last Piece (Best Concept) by Oli Payne of Vega Durban, directed by Paige Sanders on behalf of SA Guide Dogs; A Home for Every Heart (Best Animation) by Vega Durban, directed by Chris McNabb, Sharleen Hollick and Brendon Celine on behalf of the Thokomala Orphan Care Organisation; and a special mention in the Best Use of Humour category for An Empty Conversation by Big Fish, directed by Themba Nkabinde for Read.
The teams behind the Newcomer Category finalists will be offered hand-picked internships at top creative and production houses in South Africa, which will allow them to gain first-hand experience in real-world scenarios, allowing their talent to flourish. They will be supported during their internships with limited financial assistance from M-Net.
M-Net's director of corporate & marketing communication, Koo Govender, said that both M-Net and the judging panel were enthralled by the quality and volume of submissions in 2009, which saw more than 110 entries for the awards. “The future of the South African film and creative industry is bright and we look forward sharing its development,” she said. “The M-Net Vuka! Awards will continue to both inspire the industry and grow in parallel with it - and we wait in anticipation to see the magnificent heights it is sure to attain with the participation of such talented people, be they newcomers, contenders or professionals.”