SA doc wins World TV award


A 48-minute documentary by Johannesburg-based television production company Chedza Media has won the World TV Award for 2008.

Entitled The Letter, the film was filmed on location in the West Bank and Tel Aviv and follows an Israeli mother who lost a son to sniper fire during his service in the reserve army. Speaking from the heart, the mother wrote a letter to the sniper’s family in the hope of finding closure and reconciliation.

The 2008 World TV Award programne is in its fifth year and is organised by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD). The AIBD seeks to facilitate regional and international dialogue on electronic media and to assist members through educational programmes. This year the AIBD aimed to award documentaries that promote religious understanding and tolerance.

Screened on SABC2’s Issues of Faith, The Letter was written and directed by Coetzee Zietsman and gets close and personal with those who are intimately affected by the conflict between Palestine and Israel.

Says Zietsman: “The Letter received 1st place in the World TV Award because it increases public awareness on an important area of cultural diversity, tolerance and peace. We set out to tell the simple story of two people and their journey towards reconciliation. For us, being able to achieve this goal is our greatest achievement.’

Scritpwriter and assistant to Zietsman Debbie Sprowson adds: “I got taken out of my comfort zone and learned about political conflict through the eyes of those involved. It was painful at times, but staying focused on the story kept me going.”

Chedza Media specialises in telling stories from a human angle and believes there is an urgent need for documentaries like The Letter, as South Africa and other countries grapple with issues of tolerance among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The spirit in which this documentary was made takes out the politics so that a healthy civic discourse can take place.


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