The acclaimed SABC1 drama series Intersexions, commissioned by JHHESA, has garnered the highest number of 2012 SA Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) nominations, with a stunning 23 nods in 13 categories.
In three of the SAFTA TV Drama categories, all of the nominations are for Intersexions, guaranteeing the hit series at least those awards.
Co-produced by Curious Pictures and Ants Multimedia, in partnership with JHHESA and SABC Education, with funding from USAID and PEPFAR, Intersexions is an innovative series of 26 separate but interlinked episodes that examine issues relating to love, sex and relationships - and how they can have heartbreaking and physically devastating consequences. In the final episode, a documentary, the human sexual network mimicked by the series' structure is laid out and viewers are shown how HIV spreads.
The series was first broadcast in late 2010 and early 2011, and rebroadcast on the channel in the latter half of 2011. During its first broadcast, it quickly became one of the most popular shows across all genres on South African television, taking second place only to the juggernaut soap opera Generations.
"While we have no doubt in our minds that Intersexions is one of the best television drama series ever produced in this country, we are nevertheless blown away at the news that it has received so many SAFTA nominations," says JHHESA managing director Richard Delate.
"This is certainly a reflection of all the hard work and immense creativity that has gone into making Intersexions a reality. Everyone who worked on the series, from the production team to the scriptwriters to the cast, played their part in creating television drama of the highest order - recognised first by audiences, and now their peers in the film world."
Intersexions co-producer Uzanenkosi Mahlangu, of Ants Multimedia, says the sheer number of SATFA nominations highlights the excellent standard of Intersexions.
"We have truly produced a world-class series in Intersexions - there was not a single weak link in the entire production chain, and it shows in the final product. Audiences loved it, and now there's the overwhelming recognition of the film and television industry. We're very proud to have been a part of this incredible production," says Mahlangu.
"All of us are deeply honoured about the 23 SAFTA nominations for Intersexions," says series producer Harriet Gavshon, of Curious Pictures.
"The nominations, which include for directing, acting, scriptwriting, photography, editing, sound and more, are testament to the exceptionally high production standards we set for ourselves, and the calibre of the people who worked on Intersexions. The news of our nominations is very exciting."
According to Delate, the great number of SAFTA nominations is also a strong indicator that entertainment education - the use of drama to impart health messaging to audiences - need not be unappealing to viewers.
"Intersexions is first and foremost drama that is meant to engage and entertain audiences, but its underlying purpose is to impart critical health information to South Africans in order for them to make sensible lifestyle choices and avoid diseases such as HIV.
"And it has done both - handsomely. It is clear from the overwhelmingly positive response of audiences to Intersexions on social media, that it was a not-to-be-missed weekly date in front of the small screen. And even now, we receive scores of health and lifestyle-related queries on our social media platforms from fans of the show."
This is echoed by Pontsho Makhetha, SABC Education's Public Information and Social Development Unit, who says that television has a pivotal role to play in health-related messaging.
"Television represents one of the most effective ways to reach a wide audience, and drama one of the most gripping ways in which to present people with critical health information. Through engaging with people's hearts through stories that have meaning and relevance for them, we speak to their minds - making for an educational experience that is entertaining, memorable and never comes across as a lecture," she says.
These are the 2012 SAFTA nominations for Intersexions:
*Best TV Drama Series (Curious Pictures)
*Best Director of a TV Drama Series (Rolie Nikiwe - ep 4 and 8)
*Best Director of a TV Drama Series (Catharine Cooke - ep 20)
*Best Actor in a TV Drama Series (Thato Moraka as "Tshepo")
*Best Actor in a TV Drama Series (Katleho Ramapakela as "Thami")
*Best Actor in a TV Drama Series (Siyabonga Radebe as "Muzi")
*Best Actress in a TV Drama Series (Lungelo Dladla as "Buhle")
*Best Supporting Actress in a TV Drama Series (Nolwazi Shange as "Ntombi")
*Best Writing Team of a TV Drama Series (Chisanga Kabinga - ep 4)
*Best Writing Team of a TV Drama Series (Linda Bere - ep 20)
*Best DOP/Cinematographer of a TV Drama Series (Trevor Calverley - ep 20)
*Best DOP/Cinematographer of a TV Drama Series (Trevor Calverley - ep 8)
*Best DOP/Cinematographer of a TV Drama Series (Trevor Calverley - ep 4)
*Best Editor of a TV Drama Series (Melanie Golden - ep 4)
*Best Editor of a TV Drama Series (Melanie Golden - ep 8)
*Best Editor of a TV Drama Series (Melanie Golden - ep 20)
*Best Production Design of a TV Drama Series (Marna Heunis)
*Best Music Composition of a TV Drama Series (Sue Lubner)
*Best Costume Design of a TV Drama Series (Rochelle Selling)
*Best Make-up & Hair stylist of a TV Drama Series (Smartie Olifant)
*Best Sound Design of a TV Drama Series (Janno Muller and Tim Pringle - ep 4)
*Best Sound Design of a TV Drama Series (Janno Muller and Tim Pringle - ep 8)
*Best Sound Design of a TV Drama Series (Janno Muller and Tim Pringle - ep 20)