Young South Africans Making Movie Magic

What does a chilling drama about the heartache of a missing sister and a light-hearted comedy about a fake fiancée have in common? They are both movies created for Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) and are the direct result of M-Net’s Magic in Motion Academy started in 2014. The well-established CSI initiative, which empowers young film and television graduates through an intensive 12-month work readiness programme, is starting 2018 on a high with the release of two new movies created by current and former Academy interns proving that the company’s investment in young homegrown TV talent is delivering fresh new local programming for local audiences.

First up on February 3 at 19:30 is Umhlanga, one of four movies created by the Academy Class of 2017. Set in rural KZN, the movie tells the story of two sisters, Buhle and Ntombi, whose excitement over the upcoming Reed Dance first turns to disappointment when Ntombi decides that she won’t attend the traditional ceremony, a decision that upsets her Gogo. But events take a turn for the worse when word reaches the village that Buhle who traveled alone to attend the event has now disappeared. What follows is a web of betrayal and lies as a shattered family fight to be reunited. Notably the movie boasts a multi-generational cast including Nomsa Xaba, Dawn Tandeka King, Lihle Dlomo and Busi Mtshali.

Then on 10 February at 19:30, Mzansi Magic audiences will see the premiere of Moratuwa, a film created by alumni of the academy, A Tribe Called Story. The team is made up of three Magic in Motion Academy Alumni (Aluta Qupa, Mbalizethu Zulu and Thembalethu Mfebe) and was funded and fostered by the MultiChoice Enterprise Development Fund. Since it’s creation in 2017, the company has been hard at work producing three commissioned movies for prime-time broadcast, an impressive opportunity afforded to the young filmmakers after their potential was recognised during their internship. In Moratuwa, a young career woman Naledi fulfills her gravely ill grandmother’s wish to marry by ‘tying the knot’ with Neo, a man she hires to be her Mr Right. But when her grandmother makes an unexpected recovery, doctors warn her ‘newlywed’ grand-daughter that any bad news will be very harmful to her fragile health. For Neo it’s a chance to spend time with a lady he has always liked but for Naledi, trapped in a comical lie, life is about to get very interesting…

Speaking at a special screening held to celebrate the movies, M-Net South Africa Group GM Nkateko Mabaso congratulated the teams who completed both films on their outstanding achievement.

“M-Net invests in young TV talent because we understand that their growth is vital to our industry and to economic development of the country. And most importantly, it is because our audiences support local talent and stories so enthusiastically that enables us to continue delivering it.”

For more information on M-Net’s Magic in Motion Academy, log on to or visit our Twitter page @MnetCorporate #MagicInMotion


M-Net Movies Celebrates Hollywood’s Finest With Special Oscars Pop-up Channel

115 Academy Award winning films. 757 Oscar nominations. 306 golden statuettes. That’s what movie buffs will be treated to on ONE channel in the month of February. Get the popcorn ready for a dazzling M-Net Movies Oscars pop-up treat on channel 109 on DStv.

Le  Leading up to 2018’s landmark 90th annual Academy Awards taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Monday 5 March, M-Net Movies will bring DStv Premium viewers a special month-long M-Net Movies Oscars pop-up channel in February.

The M-Net Movies Oscars pop-up channel, hosted on channel 109 on DStv, will showcase a long list of magical movies that caught the eyes of critics and sparkled at Oscar ceremonies over the years.  This treasure trove of terrific films will be screened from Thursday 1 February until Wednesday 28 February and each day there will be six films on the schedule from around noon until just after midnight .

W   While the spotlight will shine on all the Hollywood films from last year’s Oscars (the 89th Academy Awards), many of the cinematic gems that raked in the most awards since the inception of the awards will also make their way onto channel 109.  Viewers can look forward to an array of films – from classics like Gone With The Wind and the original 1959 Ben Hur to 2017’s Best Picture winner Moonlight along with last year’s Best Animated Feature Zootropolis.

This pop-up channel will also honour Oscar winners by screening the acclaimed movies they’ve appeared in.  Academy favourites like Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio and South Africa’s own Charlize Theron will once again transport viewers into the heart of their characters’ stories, desires, fears and wonders.

For a golden binge-viewing experience, weekends movies will be scheduled into the following categories:

  • Saturday, 3 February –  Most Nominations and Most Wins
  • Sunday, 4 February –   Most nominations, Most Wins and Best Animation films
  • Saturday, 10 February – Best Director
  • Sunday, 11 February –  Best Supporting Actress
  • Saturday, 17 February – Best Supporting Actor
  • Sunday, 18 February – Best Actor
  • Saturday, 24 February – Best Actress
  • Sunday, 25 February –  Best Picture

The 90th edition of the Academy Awards will broadcast live on M-Net Movies Premiere at 03:30 am on Monday,5 March and M-Net 101 on the same day, at 9:30 pm, after that it will move to Catch Up.

You can find the schedule on or on under printable schedules as well as on the EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) on your decoder.


Acting Workshops With Bonnie Rodini – February & March 2018

Workshops that will be held in February and March:

Acting Technique 3: 
16 Feb – 23 March (Fridays) 10am-1pm

19 Feb – 26 March (Mondays) 10am-1pm

Character Audition: 
28 Feb + 1 March (2 days Wed and Thurs) 9:30am – 2PM

On Camera Audition: 
7 + 8 March (2 days Wed and Thurs) 9:30am – 2PM

Fore detailed info on the workshops please go to:


Script Writing Workshop With Bonnie Rodini – 8 February 2018

“Arrive with an idea, leave with a screenplay”

Learn to write your screen play in 6 classes over 9 weeks. Step by step guide on how to structure your story and write a screenplay. The course covers finding stories, breaking your script into 3 acts, working in sequences, crucial moments in story telling, the world of the character, character arch and plotting character growth, analysing scripts, objective and subjective drama, backstory, characters history and inner life, sub plots and sub plot characters and finally how to end a story.

Dates: 8, 22 Feb + 15,22,29 March + 12 April
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Venue: 30 Alpina Road,  Claremont

Investment: R3,500 for 6 classes.
Payment terms are available if needed.
All workshop info:


Athol Fugard’s “The Road To Mecca”

Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca From 27 March 2018

Eric Abraham presents this Fugard Theatre production of Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca, in honour of the iconic playwright’s 85th year. The play will open at the Fugard Theatre on 27 March 2018, on World Theatre Day, and run for a limited season. Directed by Greg Karvellas (The Fugard’s Shakespeare in Love, Clybourne Park, The Father, Bad Jews), the production stars Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers and Emily Child.

Inspired by Helen Martins, who lived in Nieu-Bethesda and created the now famous Owl House – which is designated a provincial heritage site – The Road to Mecca is the story of a woman’s desire for personal and artistic freedom within the narrow confines of a conservative and highly religious community in the Karoo in early seventies apartheid South Africa.

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Local Film To Compete At International Film Festival – Ellen, Die Storie Van Ellen Pakkies

What do you get when you combine a troubled mother-son relationship, drugs and murder? An intriguing film that will not only captivate audiences of all ages, but will also impress movie critics across the globe. One of the most controversial South African murder cases is heading for the big screen and is definitely something that should not be missed!

Just like the gripping circumstances surrounding the true events which this film is based on, ELLEN, DIE STORIE VAN ELLEN PAKKIES, has also managed to cause quite a stir in the international movie arena. It has already been selected to be screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival on 27 January 2018 and is set to be an even bigger hit with local audiences.

“I am humbled that by international standards, a small film has managed to be recognised by such a prestigious festival. We are truly humbled and just want to say thank you to everybody who made it possible, especially Ellen Pakkies,” says executive producer, Paulo Areal.

Ellen Pakkies & Jill Levenberg

Told across two timelines, the movie shares the story of Ellen’s (Jill Levenberg) stormy relationship with her twenty-year old drug-addict son, Abie Pakkies (Jarrid Geduld). In 2007, his death caused a stir worldwide when it was revealed that his mother was the one who murdered him. When advocate Adrian Samuels (Clint Brink) takes on the case, he is determined to prove that Ellen had no choice. But what compelled her to stop seeking help? How does a mother become desperate enough to take her own son’s life?

Award-winning director and founder of Gambit Films, Daryne Joshua, known for the incredible success of his debut feature film, Noem My Skollie, was also the creative mind behind this impressive production and the producer is Schalk Burger. The script was created by talented writer and producer Amy Jephta with input from Ellen Pakkies herself. Ellen also helped to recreate some of the scenes in the movie, which was filmed at her home where the actual events took place.

Jill Levenberg, who had several roles in films and television series like Genadekans, Noem My Skollie (South Africa’s official entry for the 2016 Oscars), Leemte, While You Weren’t Looking, Abraham, Bekkies Gevind, As Ek Huistoe Kom, Fluit-Fluit, Atlas, Uitvlucht and Suidooster (for which she received a Huisgenoot Tempo Award nomination in 2017) stars as Ellen Pakkies and has already received positive feedback on her outstanding performance. The film also showcases the talent of actors like Elton Landrew, Shimmy Isaacs and Kay Smith.

“Rotterdam International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious International Film Festivals. So obviously, I am overjoyed that our humble South African project has risen above probably thousands of submissions from around the world and made the Official Selection for 2018. A big congratulations to the producers and crew – I thank you from the bottom of my heart, we should be proud of this great achievement. Now on a world stage, hopefully the film can help bring an understanding and context to the remarkable story of Ellen Pakkies,” says Daryne Joshua.

ELLEN, DIE STORIE VAN ELLEN PAKKIES is the harrowing account of a woman put through the penal system, tried for murder and driven by an unflinching love for her son. It delves into the inner psyche of a family ravaged by drugs in one of the most dangerous communities in South Africa. A scourge that extends beyond the Cape Flats and highlights a systematic failure to protect the poorest of the poor.

This kykNET Films production was produced in association with M-Net, the DTI and The Moving Billboard Picture Company (TMPBC). It will be released in cinemas, nationwide, on 7 September 2018, and is distributed by Ster-Kinekor Entertainment.



Coming Up On Carte Blanche – 28 January 2018

On M-Net & M-Net HD [101], Sunday 28 January 2017 at 19:00 & again on M-Net Plus 1 [901] at 20:00



Please note: this an extended 90-minute broadcast

Life Esidimeni Hearings Continued

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was finally in the hot seat at the Life Esidimeni Arbitration hearings this week where she apologised to families of victims of the tragedy.   But in her testimony, she took no responsibility and shifted blame to then suspended Gauteng Health Department head Barney Selebano and Mental Health director, Dr Makgabo Manamela, both of whom had recently resigned from their posts. Meanwhile, affected families still need real answers and the big question remains: who will take ultimate responsibility for the tragic deaths of 143 State patients?

Producer: Anna-Maria van Niekerk and Marzanne van den Berg
Presenter: Devi Sankaree Govender
Researcher: Siniketiwe Hlanze
Watch the trailer

Trillian: Bianca Goodson Speaks

In an in-depth interview, former Trillian executive, Bianca Goodson lifts the lid on the inner workings of the Gupta empire, revealing how Gupta-linked companies planned to siphon billions from State-owned enterprises. Goodson also opens up to Carte Blanche about the secret life of a whistle-blower – the fear, anxiety and depression associated with speaking up.

Producer: Graham Coetzer
Presenter: Macfarlane Moleli

Estina – Dairy Farm

In 2014, Carte Blanche investigated how a massive agricultural project, the Estina Diary Farm, which was meant to benefit local Free State farmers, became just another scheme for the Gupta family to milk the state of millions of tax-payers’ funds.  Now, as the National Prosecuting Authority hones in on one of the biggest money laundering schemes, the dairy farm has once again taken centre stage in ongoing investigations into the State Capture project.

Producer: Kate Barry
Presenter: Devi Sankaree Govender
Researcher: Sasha Schwendenwein

Eskom: Deflections and Denials

It’s been a busy few days for Eskom, from the announcement of the new Board to the resignation of former CFO Anoj Singh.  This week Singh and Head of Generation, Matshela Koko, also appeared before parliament’s inquiry into the power utility, but if MPs were hoping for straight answers they were bitterly disappointed.  Instead, Singh and Koko denied, deflected or simply couldn’t recall their roles in the events which some MPs say, brought Eskom to its knees.  Carte Blanche unpacks this developing story.

Producer: Joy Summers
Presenter:  Devi Sankaree Govender
Researcher: Tony Beamish

Hugh Masekela: A Giant Has Fallen

An international icon, trumpeter, composer and musician, “the father of South African jazz”, died earlier this week at the age of 78, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer.  Hugh Masekela was a legend in jazz circles and during apartheid, used his music as a protest tool against the government in a bid to advocate for political change in South Africa.  Carte Blanche pays tribute to a South African music giant.

Producer: Julian Sun
Presenter: Bongani Bingwa
Researcher: Siniketiwe Hlanze

SA Skier Qualifies For Olympics

Barkly East at the foot of the Maluti mountains in the Eastern Cape, is about as far as you can get from the famous ski resorts of the world and these slopes only have snow for 3 months of the year. Yet from this small town, a young man has emerged who has actually qualified for the winter Olympics next month in South Korea. Carte Blanche goes skiing with 22-year-old Sive Speelman.

Producer: Sasha Schwendenwein
Presenter: Derek Watts
Watch the trailer

Line-ups are subject to change. Stories can be viewed at

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Film Review

Maze Runner: The Death Cure : Review

Following on from 2014’s Maze Runner, and 2015’s Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, comes the third instalment of the series The Death Cure. We once again join hero Thomas (Dylan O’Brien – American Assassin, Deepwater Horizon) as he and his band of survivors embark on yet another mission to find a cure for the blight known as “Flare” that is killing mankind.

The Maze Runner series took a rather heavy knock with the second instalment. The first was unique, full of mystery and an engrossing plot. Scorch Trials dropped the ball, badly. However Death Cure certainly brings a good dose of redemption with it.

There is action, huge settings (spot the heavily altered, but still familiar Cape Town locations), and there is a decent dose of science fiction. Those, however, can not sustain a movie on their own, so thankfully we also get a good story. The plot, while different to the first film, feels once more like an adventure, telling a story, and one where the heroes have much at stake, often their lives.

While the plot is not fraught with twists, there is an element of unpredictability. There is also a small dose of predictable action, as if checking a box on a list for scenes that must be in an action film.

Engrossing, action packed, and a nice way to round off the series. Maze Runner: The Death Cure opens 26 January 2018 in South African cinemas.



Snatch Starts On M-Net Tomorrow – “You Can Either Be A Mark Or Make A Mark”

Based on Guy Ritchie’s cult classic, Snatch comes to the small screen with just as much punch as the wildly popular film. Starting tomorrow, Thursday 25 January at 22:00 on M-Net channel 101, the crime caper follows the intricate twists and turns of a seemingly simple heist.


The ten-episode series centres on a group of twenty-something hustlers – all aspiring up-and-coming mobsters who are tired of playing in the little leagues. A twist of fate and a sprig of luck put Albert Hill, Charlie Cavendish and Billy Ayres in the path of a truck load of stolen gold bullion, but the discovery thrusts them into the high-stakes world of organised crime. Soon, these inexperienced criminals must quickly learn how to navigate the treacherous waters of London’s underworld as rogue cops, gypsy fighters, international mobsters and local villains descend.

The cast includes Luke Pasqualino (The Musketeers), Rupert Grint (Harry Potter) Lucien Laviscount (The Bye Bye Man), Phoebe Dynevor (The Musketeers), Stephanie Leonidas (Killjoys) Juliet Aubrey (Middlemarch), Marc Warren (Mad Dogs) and Tamer Hassan (24).

With a story this good only one question remains: You in or You Out?

Watch Snatch season 1 exclusive on M-Net channel 101, from Thursday 25 January at 22:00.

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Revolting Rhymes Nominated For An Oscar

Revolting Rhymes is one of five animated short films nominated for an Oscar.

Directed by Jakob Schuh (Oscar-nominated for The Gruffalo) and Jan Lachauer (Oscar-nominated for Room on the Broom) and co-directed by Bin Han To, produced by Martin Pope and Michael Rose, Revolting Rhymes is an adaptation of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake’s classic book of surprising fairy tales.

Produced by Magic Light Pictures, Revolting Rhymes was animated at Magic Light’s Berlin studio and Cape Town’s Triggerfish. It’s voiced by a stellar cast that includes Dominic West (The Affair) as The Wolf; Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) as Red Riding Hood; and Gemma Chan (Humans) as Snow White.

“We’re beside ourselves right now, and just incredibly happy,” say Schuh and Lachauer. “Happy for the film and happy for all our fantastic collaborators here in Berlin, our producers at Magic Light, as well as our wonderful team in South Africa. It’s a pretty unreal feeling to find your labour of love has been recognised in this way. We’re deeply grateful to the Academy for this nomination. This was a hard film to make. What always steered us forward was the level of love our team had for this story – and the blessings we received from Luke Kelly, Roald Dahl’s grandson, and from the great Quentin Blake. So, for everyone’s work to receive such love in return today, it’s the most beautiful reward.”

Revolting Rhymes has already won nine major international awards: the Cristal at Annecy in France, the world’s premiere animation festival; Best Animation at the BAFTA Children’s Awards; two awards at the European Animation Awards; Best Animated Short at TIFF Kids; Best Animation at the World Banff Media Festival in Canada; Best Storytelling at Shanghai International Film and TV Festival in China; the Children’s Jury prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and the Audience Award at Filmfest Munchen.

Revolting Rhymes is also nominated for a prestigious Annie Award on 3 February 2018 in Los Angeles; a British Animation Award on 15 March in London; and an International Emmy Kids Award, which will be presented in April 2018.

“Congrats to Jakob, Jan, Bini and the amazing team at Magic Light; it was such an honour to watch and learn from them,” says Mike Buckland, head of production at Triggerfish. “We also feel immense gratitude towards our insanely hard-working, generous and talented crew, who fully deserve this recognition that their work stands up there with the best in the world. We’re hoping Revolting Rhymes’ success will inspire many more Africans to enter the animation industry, which is growing rapidly here but still not fast enough to keep up with demand. And we can’t wait for South African audiences to finally be able to see Revolting Rhymes when it comes to Showmax in the near future.”

Magic Light Pictures’ third collaboration with Triggerfish, The Highway Rat, premiered on BBC One this Christmas, achieving total audience ratings of 6.0 million viewers and 31.2% share for the Christmas Day premiere, making it the eighth most-watched programme of the day. An adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestseller, The Highway Rat is a swashbuckling tale of bandits and biscuits the whole family will enjoy. David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) leads an impressive cast in the title role.

Following the success of The Highway Rat, BBC ONE and Magic Light Pictures have announced that an animated adaptation of Donaldson and Scheffler’s Zog is set for BBC One this coming Christmas.

Zog is about a loveable young dragon finding his way in a magical, yet challenging world. The animated half hour is being directed by Max Lang, Oscar-nominated director of Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo, and by South African Daniel Snaddon, co-director of Stick Man. The film is being produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures, with animation services again being provided by Triggerfish Animation in Cape Town.

Zog was first published in 2010 by Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic). It won the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year Award and has sold over 1.5 million copies. For the fourth year running, Donaldson is the UK’s number one bestselling author (across children’s and adult books). Donaldson and Scheffler are the UK’s number one picture book pair.