Words by Mahlogonolo Sepota
The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) have been the cornerstone of the Television award industry in South Africa. With a plethora of nominations every year, the industry has had to put up phenomenal work in order for the various shows and movies to be in the running for the golden horn on the night of the award ceremony.
Taking a look at the 2017 film and TV drama/series nominations ahead of the SAFTAs this coming weekend, a few jumped out at me:
- Noem My Skollie
- The Road
- Craz-e Sistahood
Having seen these, it seemed fitting to dissect and unpack, from an aesthetic point of view, why they were adequate enough to be put forward as some of the best work South Africa has to offer.
Noem My Skollie
Noem My Skollie is centred on the life of four coloured boys living in the Cape Flats as well as Pollsmoor prison. The overall colour of the movie is a very hazy, sunset orange kind of colour. This speaks to the very uncertain lifestyle of the characters because they are neither here nor there. They are stuck in between being good and doing bad things to protect themselves from the more dangerous gangs in their neighbourhood. From a wardrobe perspective, the colours used are warm colours that compliment the overall thematic colour of the movie.
The colours in jail become extremely monotonous, with the guys dressed in a khaki two piece. The walls as well as the floors are a muddy brown. This creates an overly hazy colour making the scene uncomfortable for the viewer, which speaks to the inmates’ discomfort. From this scene alone, the styling and colour choices depict a sense of sadness making the scene extremely melancholic. Looking at this shot despite the sadness, various emotions of resentment, regret and a bit of anger can also be depicted; all this is highlighted by the shade of darker colours, laced with a hazy sunset colour.
Sink is a movie centred on loss, grief and reconciliation between the power dynamics that is “Madam and Maid.” We discover that Rachel’s (the help) daughter died tragically under the care of Michelle (the madam). This dynamic or rather revelation, informs the overall colour theme of the movie especially in Rachel’s world. The muted colours in Rachel’s world speak to her sorrow and grief. The only time we see a burst of bright colours in her world is when we see flashbacks of Rachel spending time with her daughter while she was alive.
Rachel is seen either in her maid’s uniform or dark clothes because culturally when a woman grieves, she dresses in black. In this specific scene, you can clearly identify that the use of her uniform from a styling and colour perspective, work is showing and highlighting her grief. The two tone neutral colours, as opposed to distracting the viewers from her face, help accentuate her heavily emoted face. You can clearly depict emptiness, sadness, loneliness and a sense of loss. The clever decisions to style her down as well as the use of neutral colours work in creating a very emotionally loaded scene as opposed to the use of bright colours.
Aesthetically the road was extremely enthralling because it was a story within a story. We were brought into the world of film-making in a very interesting manner. We got to see and feel what an actor goes through while on set.
From a styling and colour point of view, The Road took us back and gave us a Sophiatown feel. The dress code and the colours exude a sense of freedom within self and immediate context as opposed to the environment and world you live in. This is seen in how care free the styling is for the men and how vibrant and robust the styling is for women, laced with a touch of elegance and flow. The emotions depicted through this style and the colours used, is joy, happiness and self liberation.
From a costuming perspective, the middle class characters are dressed in formal Italian shirts with detailing; this suggests that they are of high importance, especially in the township. Whereas the others are seen dressed in chinos/ripped jeans, bucket hats and all stars/sneakers; this being the typical clothing you’d find a regular person wearing in the townships – the “it” look. Such contrasts in styling and colour speak to the depiction of societal class and within that binary the emotions that come with being associated with a particular class.
The burst of colours used on set makes this youth show visually gratifying. Coupled alongside bubbly presenters dressed in vibrant clothing contributes to the very effervescent and colourful atmosphere that is created when sitting in front of the television.
The styling and colours used for this show help create and accentuate the idea of fun and vibrancy. This creates a much laid back environment that is comfortable and relatable.
Having looked at these films and series, from an aesthetic point of view, it’s quite obvious why these shows have been nominated. The production value of the aforementioned shows has not in any way been compromised and from a styling point of view, the teams involved were very clever in styling in a manner that keeps the show authentic and relatable.