The Siyaya – Come wild with us series recently walked away with the highest acclaim – Best Documentary – at the Golden Bee International Children’s Film Festival held in New Delhi, India. As a first-time entry for any award, this extraordinary series, bridging the gap between young children and nature, was chosen as the category winner for outstanding children’s documentary. The festival drew 186 entries from 18 countries covering three categories: best documentary; best short film and best feature film.
“How can we expect future generations to care about nature, our wild places and the beautiful creatures in them, if they don’t have the opportunity to learn to love nature?” asks Dr Francois Odendaal, the director of the series and renowned biologist. The aim of the project is to instill a growing curiosity in the (young) viewer to know more about the natural world in an entertaining and fun-filled way.
According to Rao Narender Yadav, Festival Director, the series had all the elements of “an invigorating experience”. He called the series “a fascinating visual treat for all, putting children in the lap of nature, exploring, learning and most importantly, understanding nature.”
The series, with a deeply resonant conservation message, has been made possible by a collaboration of partners including South African National Parks (SANParks), CapeNature, and Wesgro.
SANParks Acting CEO Luthando Dziba said “SANParks is proud to have been part of jointly creating and producing Siyaya – “Come wild with us” from its very inception ten years ago. We believe in fostering a prosperous, environmentally conscious nation, whose people are in harmonious coexistence with the natural environment and derive lasting benefits from its rich biological diversity. The win at the Golden Bee International Children’s Film Festival is an amazing feat for Siyaya and one which highlights the importance of educating and entertaining the future of our country to protect our natural and cultural heritage.”
The CEO of CapeNature, Dr Razeena Omar immediately saw the potential of the series as a means of connecting children of today and future generations with the natural world. “Siyaya awakens the sense of exploration of nature’s treasure trove in our children, leading them to a will to protect and love our natural environment. It opens up an array of possibilities in which they can see themselves becoming scientists, explorers and conservationists. I congratulate Prof Odendaal and his production team on this amazing feat and we are so proud to be part of this product and the immense value it has for younger audiences.”
Yaw Peprah, Wesgro’s Acting CEO, commented: “The award is a feather in the cap for the local film sector, highlighting on a global stage the world-class skills and locations available for filming in Cape Town and the Western Cape. We are immensely proud of the Siyaya team and look forward to seeing how the popular series evolves.”
Apart from winning awards, Dr Odendaal is very excited about Siyaya evolving from a television series into a project: “It has a profound impact on society, in particular young people. For many of them the experience in nature has been life changing. We are following up with those who have been on the show and assisting some of them to make their own conservation films using cell phones. We have been invited to enter films made by youth themselves in the American Conservation Film Festival where Siyaya has enjoyed Official Selection status two years in a row. We are overwhelmed by youngsters on our Facebook page who want to go on Siyaya expeditions. We want to be able to reach out and enable young people beyond just the films. The Siyaya project welcomes any partners that can help to make this possible.”
Siyaya has been shown in well over half of the world’s countries and can be seen locally on multiple platforms from SABC2 to the Mindset Network on DSTV and now also available on Video on Demand like Showmax. The 5th season of the series will premiere 6 October 2021 on SABC2 where it will be aired every Wednesday at 16h00. In addition, the first three seasons have already been licensed by prestigious networks such as National Geographic.