BY PATIENCE BAMBALELE
TV and film star Jet Novuka scooped the best supporting actor award at this year’s South African International Film Festival Awards that took place on Saturday night in Newtown, Johannesburg.
The awards honour and recognise films from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics countries) that were featured in the 10-day film festival. Novuka was acknowledged for his role in the award-winning film Letters of Hope which also features stars such as Sibulele Gcilitshana, Luthuli Dlamini and Aphiwe Mkefe.
Upcoming producer Siyabonga Mbele won this year’s best student film category. The awards were presented to 16 winners from as many categories at a glitzy ceremony on Saturday evening. The best student short film from the Brics countries was The Bleeding News, a film by young Chinese director Zhang Hao. The best international short film award was awarded to The Letter Reader, a film by local director Sibusiso Khuzwayo. Meanwhile, the posthumous lifetime achievement award was bestowed on the late Dr Lionel Ngakane.
Festival director, Eric Miyeni said: “We are particularly proud to mark our fifth anniversary by bestowing the first posthumous lifetime achievement RapidLion to the great man it is named after, the late Dr. Lionel Ngakane.”
Ngakane received the award for his outstanding achievement in the field of movie-making and contribution to the development of the industry in South Africa and on the continent. Born in 1928, Ngakane entered the film industry in 1950 and went on to act opposite Sydney Poitier in Zoltan Korda’s Cry the Beloved Country.
“He was the first indigenous South African to direct a film. His short film, Jemima and Johnny, won first prizes at the Venice and Rimini film festivals,” Miyeni said.
“He was always passionate about African cinema, was instrumental in the organisation of the first African Film Festival at the National Film Theatre in London. He also conceived of an organisation that would foster cooperation among African filmmakers and, in 1967, the Pan-African Federation of Film Makers, of which he was the regional secretary for Southern Africa, was formed. Dr. Ngakane passed away in 2003.”
Brazilian director Eliza Capai received the award for best documentary feature for her film titled Your Turn while Kate Henshaw-Nuttal won the RapidLion for best actress in a supporting role for her performance in The Ghost and the House of Truth.
Gareth Place won the RapidLion for cinematography for his work on the South African film Fried Barry and the best screenplay went to Moroccan filmmaker Aksel Rifman for his film Monsters.
The RapidLion is designed and manufactured to represent the pinnacle achievement of any filmmaker from Africa, the Brics countries and the African diaspora. It aims to remind RapidLion film entrants that excellence comes through hard work and ferocious focus, and that these qualities can lead to greatness. The festival ran from March 6 to March 15.