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Congratulations! SAFTA honours activists

17 October 2023

Jabaar Cassiem Mohamed holds a SAFTA for a Person with Disability Contribution

Shelley Barry, a South African filmmaker and disability rights activist, and a South African Sign Language champion,  Jabaar Mohamed, were recently honoured at the 17th annual Saftas (South African Film and Television Awards) held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg on the 29th and 30th September, 2023.

For her film, A camera on my Lap, Barry was awarded a SAFTA in the Best documentary short film category. The film was written, directed, filmed and produced by Dr Shelley Barry and edited by Dr Aimee Viljoen-Stroebel from the Department of Communication and Media.

Dr Shelley Barry and Dr Aimee Viljoen-Stroebel

This national award for the film follows an international award from the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany in 2022. The film was made possible with grant funding from UJ’s URC research grant for equipment and a grant from the Ford Foundation.

Shot on a mobile phone during lockdown in Gqeberha, South Africa, a filmmaker contemplates
creating within an unchanging frame of reference.

The film centres around her home, The Blue House, a tribute to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was
her source of inspiration when she became a person with a disability during a turf war in Cape Town
in 1996. A camera on my Lap ponders questions concerning representation on the cinematic screen
and responds to the challenge of creative practice during a pandemic.

“Winning this prestigious national award affirms my two decades of dedication and obstacles overcome in disability filmmaking. It brings immense joy and motivation to continue creating impactful stories, knowing our work is being recognized,” remarked Barry.

“Greater support is still needed for accessible training, resources and funding to grow an inclusive industry. Mobile phones enable opportunity, but more assistance is essential for disabled and marginalized filmmakers to sustain livelihoods. I call for specialized funds, mentoring and business aid so more unique voices can shine. By uplifting emerging talent, we make overdue progress. My work proves disability stories matter, so increased backing will unleash their full power.” she added.

Barry has won multiple awards for her filmmaking, including a previous SAFTA in 2018.  She holds a Creative PhD in film from The University of the Witwatersrand. She was awarded a SAFTA award for Outstanding Disability Contributor to the SA Film and Television industry in 2018.

‘Accessibility With Jabaar’ TV talk show host, Jabaar Mohamed, could hardly believe it when he received news of his SAFTA nomination.

“When I got the email that I had been nominated, I was like, ‘for real? Me Jabaar, a Deaf person in the SAFTAs? Many in our society still see and treat our deafness and disability as a limit,” Mohamed told SAnews a day after being honoured with the Outstanding Person With Disability Contributor Award at the 2023 edition of the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) held in Midrand, Gauteng.

The SAFTAs honour and celebrate excellence, quality and innovation in South African cinema and television.

Mohamed, the Provincial Director of DeafSA Western Cape, was nominated for the award by Cape Town TV, the station that airs ‘Accessibility With Jabaar’ (previously called the ‘Disability Show’. He has been with the channel since 2018. During COVID-19, in July 2020, the show’s name was changed to ‘Accessibility With Jabaar’.

Mohamed said ‘Accessibility With Jabaar’ is about being open minded, and educating audiences to avoid the word “shame”.

“I have been doing this from 2018 and will continue for life, where my aim is to break the barriers and open more doors… as well to train other people to be producer or TV presenter one day,” he said.

Currently, Mohamed is working as a member of the Deaf Education Task Team for the Western Cape Education Department with the DeafSA expert team, and on a committee for the Provincial Department of Health.

He is also an ambassador for the Universal Accessibility Hub. He serves on many events as Motivational Speaker, Master of Ceremonies (MC) and Guest Speaker.

Mohamed completed his BCom Public Management degree, without the South African Sign Language Interpreter (SASLI), at University of the Western Cape.

Credits: SA News


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