Valley of a Thousand Hills clinched the awards for Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay for a Feature Film, Best African Film, Best IsiZulu Film, Best Director, Best use of KZN as a filming location, Best Actress and Best Newcomer Actress in film.
By Helena Olori
Valley of a Thousand Hills, written and directed by Bonie Sithebe, swept the 10th Simon ‘Mabhunu’ Sabela Awards, winning eight of the most coveted awards at the ceremony held on July 22, 2023.
The film clinched the awards for Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay for a Feature Film, Best African Film, Best IsiZulu Film, Best Director, Best use of KZN as a filming location, Best Actress and Best Newcomer Actress in film.
“I didn’t expect all of them, not at all, even though we have won an international award (Cannes Best African Film 2022) before,” said Sithebe who was overwhelmed with excitement for her multiple wins. “I was expecting to win some, but it was a surprise to actually scoop all the nominations we submitted for.”
The acting category celebrated exceptional performances, with Fanele Zulu named Best Actor in Film for Uthando Lwethu, while renowned actress, Baby Cele, clinched the Best Supporting Actress in Film for her role in Ukhumubuzile. On the TV front, Sdumo Mtshali and Nompilo Maphumulo bagged the awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in TV for their roles in The Estate and Uzalo, respectively.
In her remarks, veteran actress, Thembi Nyandeni, who received accolades as Best Supporting Actress in Uzalo said, “You know this award is special to me because the late Simon Sabela was my mentor. He is the one who chose me out of all the girls in the township- he said ‘This one, come let’s go and work’. At first I didn’t want to because I was a dancer not an actress but I followed and here I am now.”
Other notable winning films for the night include Maskanda & Professor as Best Documentary Feature; Umalusi, Best Micro Budget Film; Ukhumbuzile, Best Made for TV Film; Winterslaap (Hibernation), as Best Student Film; and Amandla Embokodo as the Best Documentary Short. We Have It All by Kyle Deutsch & Aewon Wolf took home the award for Best Use of KZN in a Music Video.
The awards ceremony, hosted by Big Brother Titan winner, Khosi Twala, and Minnie Dlamini, was organised by the KZN Commission in collaboration with the Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department, and held at the Durban International Convention Centre, coinciding with the ongoing 44th Durban International Film Festival.
The Simon Mabhunu Sabela Awards celebrate the artistry of filmmakers, TV stars, and industry veterans who have made significant impact within the South African Film and Television industry with focus on KwaZulu-Natal.