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'Gaia' and 'Silverton Siege' Go Head-to-Head at SAFTAs 2023

In its 17th year, the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) ceremony is set to take place in September and Gaia is sure to be one of the favourites of the night. Having garnered 9 nominations, it's in competition for Best Film against Silverton Siege with 11 nominations and Wild is the Wind with 6 nominations. While there are only three films nominated for this category, it seems like the race is a dead heat between Gaia and Silverton Siege.

Gaia vs Silverton Siege

While both South African films have technical finesse and mainstream appeal, powered by several full tilt key performances, both could have benefitted from sharper screenplays, more substance and more self-assured direction. Refraining from tying up loose ends, Gaia has an edge in terms of not over-explaining its free-ranging and unpredictable forest horror. While a natural enhancement for horror, this degree of uncertainty tends to count against films of this nature when it comes to assessing the more finite aspects of screenwriting come awards season. While Silverton Siege is based on a true story that's anchored in South African history, the bank heist thriller is built on its slick book-ends with a sluggish and simmering middle, opting for style over substance.

Competing in many of the same categories Silverton Siege managed to land a scriptwriting nomination and seems to have the edge with more acting nominations. Having won several prestigious international awards and received critical acclaim making Best Horror of the Year lists everywhere from Forbes to Variety, Gaia outperforms Silverton Siege in several areas and is more artful and full-fledged as an original vision, a superior film. Although being a horror with a more mainstream international flavour, a genre that doesn't typically perform well at these kinds of awards ceremonies, it's still anyone's guess.

Gaia scored a 6/10 from SPL!NG versus a 5/10 for Silverton Siege, which makes it Spling's clear first choice for Best Film at this year's SAFTAs with Wild is the Wind chiming in with a 4/10. It's curious to note that the black-and-white art epic Time Spent with Cats is Never Wasted (unrated), the haunting psychosexual horror Pou (7/10) and stirring coming-of-age drama Mense van die Wind (7/10) either were too niche, slipped through the cracks or just didn't connect with this year's SAFTAs voting committee.

Shot on location, the eerie and skin-crawling eco-horror follows a forest ranger who's injured on a routine mission in the Tsitsikamma National Park. Saved by two off-the-grid survivalists, what starts out as a welcome rescue becomes more suspicious as the son and his renegade father reveal a cultish devotion to the forest. When their cabin ceases to be a safe haven, it’s clear there's a far greater threat in this unrelenting wilderness.

Monique Rockman (Nommer 37) is up for a Best Actress SAFTA for her performance as the forest ranger. She's joined by Alex van Dyk (The Harvesters and Carel Nel (em>Raised by Wolves), who was unlucky not to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role. Jaco Bouwer (Spinners, 4 Mure) is up for Best Director, and Jorrie van der Walt is up for Best Cinematography after winning this category at SXSW.

Gaia has already won Best Film at the Silwerskerm Film Festival and holds an 85% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has been praised for its stunning visuals, thought-provoking story and strong performances.