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Showmax Announces Coproductions: Megan Fox Action Movie And Canal+ Epic In Ancient Africa

African streaming service Showmax has announced two new international co-productions: Jahmil XT Qubeka and Layla Swart’s epic African mythology series Blood Psalms, with Canal+ International, and the Megan Fox action movie Rogue.

This continues a move towards co-productions from Showmax’s parent company, MultiChoice, which partnered with HBO on last year’s Trackers, an adaptation of the bestselling Deon Meyer novel, which outperformed Game of Thrones in South Africa.

“This is a conscious move on our part to ramp up investment in African content,” says Yolisa Phahle, CEO of General Entertainment for MultiChoice. “We’re already seeing a virtuous cycle in action with more spend on local production yielding higher and higher quality output, which in turn has led to international co-investment and distribution. This is just the start of bringing the Africa we know and love to the rest of the world.”

Rogue, premiering 11 September 2020 on BoxOffice by DStv

In Rogue, Teen Choice winner and People’s Choice nominee Megan Fox (Transformers) stars as Samantha O’Hara, who leads a team of mercenaries on a mission to rescue a group of kidnapped schoolgirls. When their plan goes south, the mercenaries find themselves out of ammo and lost in the bush, having to defend themselves against both the kidnappers and an angry lion.

MJ Basset (Power, Strike Back, Ash vs Evil Dead) directs the action-adventure film, which also stars BAFTA Rising Star winner Adam Deacon (Casualty), Philip Winchester (Strike Back, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), and South African stars Jessica Sutton (Motherland: Fort Salem, The Kissing Booth), Brandon Auret (District 9, Elysium, Still Breathing), Sisanda Henna (Trackers, Griekwastad), Kenneth Fok (Warrior) and Greg Kriek (Black Mirror), one of South Africa’s busiest actors, with over 50 international screen credits to his name.

Rogue will premiere on BoxOffice by DStv on 11 September 2020, the first of a number of films opting to skip cinemas given the pandemic and launch first and exclusively on the video on demand platform instead.

The SA-UK film is a co-production between MultiChoice, Capstone and Mannequin, with Lionsgate Home Entertainment handling distribution in North America.

Blood Psalms, launching 2021

A co-production with Canal+ International, Blood Psalms is an epic series based on ancient African mythology. Currently shooting in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, Blood Psalms chronicles the rise to power of a fierce teenaged princess, Zazi (Bokang Phelane from Keeping Score, Emoyeni), who battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through ancient curses, long-standing tribal vendettas, and the wrath of the Gods.

Show creators Layla Swart and Jahmil X.T. Qubeka from Yellowbone Entertainment were responsible for South Africa’s 2020 Oscar entry, the boxing drama Knuckle City, the most awarded film at this year’s South African Film and Television Awards, where it took home six awards, including Best Director for Jahmil and Best Editor for Layla.

The heavy-weight ensemble cast includes South African Film and Television Awards winners Bongile Mantsai (Knuckle City), Hamilton Dlamini (Five Fingers To Marseilles), Hlubi Mboya (Isidingo), Mothusi Magano (Tsotsi, Hotel Rwanda), Siv Ngesi (Knuckle City, Still Breathing), Thishiwe Ziqubu (Hard To Get), Warren Masemola (The Republic, Tjovitjo), and Zolisa Xaluva (Gomora, Knuckle City), as well as SAFTA nominees Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa (Rockville), Niza Jay (The Wound), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word, Black Sails), Sello Maake Ka Ncube (The Herd), Thando Thabethe (Housekeepers), Thembekile Komani (Knuckle City) and Zikhona Sodlaka (Shooting Stars), not to mention Faith Baloyi and Thabo Rametsi, the leads in the 2019 Berlinale Panorama opener Flatland and Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu respectively.

More Showmax Originals on the way

This follows on from the recent announcement of four more Showmax Originals: Life With Kelly Khumalo, the hit reality series about one of South Africa’s biggest music stars, as well as the long-awaited second season of the South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA)-winning comedy, Tali’s Wedding Diary; the nightclub-set murder mystery Skemerdans; and the small town horror Dam, all expected in early 2021. Showmax Originals like Tali’s Wedding Diary, The Girl From St. Agnes and Somizi & Mohale: The Union all set first-day viewing records on the streaming platform.

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7 Best New International Movies On Showmax

The Addams Family | Animation

The world’s kookiest family is coming to town and this poor little New Jersey suburb has no idea what’s about to hit it. When Wednesday Addams befriends the daughter of reality TV host Margaux Needler, who’s hell-bent on building the perfect planned community, the Addams family find themselves way out of their league when it comes to “assimilation.”

The all-star voice cast is led by our own Oscar winner Charlize Theron as Morticia Addams; Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac (Star Wars’ Poe Dameron) as Gomez; Teen Choice and Joey Award winner Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) as Wednesday; and People’s Choice and Teen Choice nominee Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) as the death-defying, gene-pool-skimming Pugsley.

Emmy-nominated comedian Nick Kroll (Big Mouth) voices Uncle Fester, Emmy nominee Snoop Dogg is It, and Oscar nominee Bette Midler plays Grandma. The Needlers are voiced by Oscar winner Allison Janney as Margaux and Golden Globe nominee Elsie Fisher (Despicable Me’s adorable Agnes) as Parker. Also listen out for Emmy-winning comedy legends Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice) and Martin Short (SCTV, Three Amigos, Inner Space) as the voices of Grandma and Grandpa Frump.

When you’re finished, move straight on to Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 live action original with Anjelica Huston and Christina Ricci, which earned Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. Showmax also has 1993’s hit sequel, Addams Family Values.

BOMBSHELL | Biopic

Based on a true story, this blockbuster drama is superbly led by Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, and Oscar nominee Margot Robbie, all three of whom, Rolling Stone says, “come out blazing in this tale of how the women of Fox News brought down a predatory CEO,” adding, “It’s explosive entertainment that means to make a difference.“

Penned by the Oscar-winning co-writer of The Big Short, Charles Randolph, and directed by four-time Emmy winner Jay Roach (Trumbo), Bombshell won a 2020 Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Makeup, with Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Lead Actress (Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Robbie).

Los Angeles Times calls it “a ferociously entertaining dramatization of how an unlikely group of women exposed and deposed media titan Roger Ailes… as harrowing as it is triumphant in its depiction of the way it all came to pass.”

The supporting cast includes Oscar winner Allison Janney (Bad Education, The Help) and Emmy winner Kate McKinnon (Yesterday, Saturday Night Live), with Oscar nominee John Lithgow (Perry Mason, The Crown) as Ailes.

BOOKSMART | Comedy

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars realise they should have worked less and played more. Determined to catch up with their peers, the best friends try to cram four years of fun into one night.

Beanie Feldstein (Jenna in What We Do In The Shadows) earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical as Molly, with Golden Globe nominee Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable) as her best friend Amy. Golden Globe nominee Lisa Kudrow (Friends, Feel Good), Emmy nominee Will Forte (The Last Man On Earth), People’s Choice nominee Jason Sudeikis (We’re The Millers), Black Reel nominee Jessica Williams (Fantastic Beasts franchise), and Skyler Gisondo (The Righteous Gemstones, The Amazing Spider-Man) co-star.

The directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde (Tron, House M.D.), Booksmart has won over 20 awards, including Best Debut at the Online Film Critics Society Awards. The comedy also picked up nominations at the Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical (Beanie Feldstein); at the BAFTAs and Writers Guild of America awards for Best Screenplay; and at the GLAAD Media Awards for Best Wide Release Film.

Booksmart has a 97% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.”

DESTROYER | Action

Destroyer is a heavy-weight, neo-noir crime drama starring Oscar winner Nicole Kidman in a 2019 Golden Globe-nominated performance as a damaged ex-LAPD cop with a score to settle, some wrongs to right, and a history to set straight. As Variety says, “Nothing Nicole Kidman has done can prepare you for Destroyer.”

The cast also includes Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany (Perry Mason, Orphan Black), Golden Globe nominee Bradley Whitford (Get Out, The West Wing, The Handmaid’s Tale), Critics Choice and Teen Choice nominee Sebastian Stan (Avengers’ Bucky Barnes), Scoot McNairy (Love Life, Narcos, True Detective) and Toby Kebbell (The Escape Artist, A Monster Calls).

In a traditionally male-dominated genre, “Kidman’s talents are unleashed with unexpected fury,” says The Wrap, adding that Cannes and Sundance award-winning director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, The Outsider) is “a cinematic force.”

The Verge calls Destroyer, “A tremendous piece of filmmaking, fueled by Kusama’s fearless creative vision and Kidman’s transformative performance.”

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile | Crime biopic

This biographical crime thriller about one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy, is based on the memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, penned by Bundy’s former girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall.

Teen Choice Award winner Zac Efron (High School Musical, Hairspray, The Greatest Showman) plays Bundy in a People’s Choice nominated performance Variety calls, “controlled, magnetic, audacious, committed, and eerily right.”

Oscar nominee John Malkovich plays the presiding judge at Bundy’s trial, with Kaya Scodelario (Crawl, Pirates of the Caribbean, Maze Runner) as Bundy’s wife Carole Ann Boone. The cast also includes Golden Globe winner Jim Parsons (Sheldon in Big Bang Theory);

Golden Globe nominee Lily Collins (Les Misérables, Rules Don’t Apply); Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment (Future Man, The Sixth Sense); and Metallica frontman James Hetfield.

Nominated for the 2019 People’s Choice Award for Favourite Drama Movie, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is directed by Oscar-nominated, Peabody- and Emmy-winning nonfiction filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Under African Skies).

FIVE FEET APART | Romance

Stella Grant (The Edge of Seventeen’s Haley Lu Richardson in a Teen Choice and MTV Movie Awards-nominated performance) is every bit a 17-year-old: she’s attached to her laptop and loves her best friends. But unlike most teenagers, she spends much of her time living in a hospital as a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient. Her life is full of routines, boundaries and self-control – all of which is put to the test when she meets an impossibly charming fellow CF patient named Will Newman (Riverdale’s Cole Sprouse in a People’s Choice Favourite Drama Movie Star-winning performance).

There’s an instant flirtation, though restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them of five feet apart. As their connection intensifies, so does the temptation to throw the rules out the window and embrace that attraction. Further complicating matters is Will’s potentially dangerous rebellion against his ongoing medical treatment. Stella gradually inspires Will to live life to the fullest, but can she ultimately save the person she loves when even a single touch is off limits?

The 72nd biggest box office hit of 2019 globally, Five Feet Apart was nominated for both 2019 People’s Choice and Teen Choice awards for Favourite Drama Movie.

MA | Horror

Octavia Spencer (The Help, The Shape of Water, Hidden Figures) kicks her Oscar-winning actress mould to the curb and stomps on it with her first starring role in this bonkers horror flick, with a little help from her best friend and former housemate, BAFTA-nominated writer/director Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl on the Train), who hand-picked the stereotype-smashing role at her request.

Ma centres on a group of teens who luck out when middle-aged single Sue Ann (aka Ma) offers them her basement to hang out and party in. But just as it seems things couldn’t get sweeter, they begin to suspect there’s something a little off about Ma…

Produced by Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning producer Jason Blum (Get Out, Us, BlacKkKlansman), Ma scooped nominations at both the Teen Choice and Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film awards last year.

The cast includes Oscar winner Allison Janney, Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear, Natural Born Killers), Diana Silvers (Space Force), and Teen Choice winner Luke Evans (Shaw in Fast & Furious 6, 7 and 8, and Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston).

“Audiences will walk out with that good chiropractor feeling,” says San Francisco Chronicle, “the one that says, ‘Yes, I have been manipulated. I have been nothing but manipulated and pounded on for the last 90 minutes. And it was a very satisfying thing.’”

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8 African Highlights To Stream On Showmax

From Love Island in Cape Town to Sol Family in Kenya to Big Brother in Nigeria

LIFE WITH KELLY KHUMALO | Watch eps 1-6 now; eps 7-13 due 27 August 2020

A household name by 21, Kelly Khumalo is one of South Africa’s biggest music stars. She’s been named Best Female Artist at the South African Music Awards, sold millions of albums, opened for Grammy winner Missy Elliott, and has over 1.7m followers on Instagram alone.

But in recent years, her stardom has been dogged by controversies, from her turbulent relationship with her son’s father, hip hop star Jub Jub, and the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of her daughter’s father, Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa to her recent ‘divorce’ from her sister, Zandie.

Life With Kelly Khumalo offers an intimate glimpse of the woman behind the headlines: a single mother of two, juggling parenting with the build-up to the release of not just her new album, Voice of Africa, but also her first gin, appropriately titled Controversy – both threatened by South Africa’s unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown.

“I’ve always been an authentic person,” says Kelly. “So this reality show is not so much about trying to explain myself or trying to win people over. I just want people to see me for who I am. All I can do is live my truth and let people be inspired by that.”

RAFIKI | Watch now

At the end of July 2020, Rafiki was named Outstanding Film – Limited Release at the GLAAD Media Awards, which recognise and honour media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the issues that affect their lives. Rafiki beat out the likes of Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, nominated for both Oscars and Golden Globes this year; 2020 Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee Portrait of A Lady On Fire; Sundance audience award winner Brittany Runs a Marathon; and South African favourite Kanarie, starring Schalk Bezuidenhout.

“Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena (Samantha Mugatsia, who won Best Actress at Carthage 2018 and FESPACO 2019 for the role) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) long for something more. When love blossoms between them, the two girls are forced to choose between happiness and safety.

Rafiki has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety calling it “impossible not to celebrate”; RogerEbert.com “a lyrical ode to finding a kindred spirit amidst an uncaring majority”; AV Club “bursting with life”; and Washington Post “a small revelation, not least because it marks the breakthrough of a filmmaker of such exhilarating, cheerfully courageous vision.”

Rafiki was nominated for the Un Certain Regard and Queer Palm Awards at Cannes 2018. The movie catapulted director Wanuri Kahiu onto Time Magazine’s 100 Next list in 2019 and launched her career internationally. She’s now adapting Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed for Amazon Prime and Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish for Universal, among other projects.

BIG BROTHER NAIJA S5 | Watch now, with evictions at 7pm every Sunday

Big Brother Naija Lockdown, which started on 19 July, has already broken a Showmax live-streaming record and become the most-watched live entertainment content ever on the streaming service. If watched back to back, the collective number of hours of the show streamed this season already add up to almost 30 years’ worth of viewing.

This year Showmax is live streaming the full show 24/7, and judging by the viewing statistics, BBNaija fans have enthusiastically taken to watching it online. The evictions are the most popular part of the show, with viewing peaking at 7pm on Sundays.

Interestingly, while Nigeria accounts for almost 50% of the viewing hours, South Africans are also big fans, with 30% of the viewing happening in SA, and another 15% happening in Kenya.

Capitalising on the success of BBNaija and the massive interest in the evictions, in a new development Showmax has added the Big Brother Naija Nomination Show. During the live eviction show, the contestants are called in by Big Brother to vote out two housemates. These Diary Room voting sessions, which aren’t seen in the course of the live stream show, are now available every Monday evening to watch on Showmax.

With the Big Brother Naija S5 finale coming up fast on 27 September 2020, and also being live streamed on Showmax, more viewing records are expected to fall.

THE TRAIN OF SALT AND SUGAR | Watch now

Mozambique is in the midst of civil war. A single train connects Nampula to Malawi. No civilians are allowed and yet hundreds risk their lives through 700km of sabotaged tracks. Salomão and Taiar are two soldiers who don’t get along. Rosa is a young nurse on her way to her first job, who soon becomes an object of desire. Mariamu, her close friend, only hopes to trade salt for sugar. Amongst bullets and laughter, life goes on and stories unfold as the train advances under attack, ever so slowly, towards the next stop.

Directed by award-winning Mozambican filmmaker Licínio Azevedo (Virgin Margarida), and co-produced by South Africa’s Urucu Media (The Wound, This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection), The Train of Salt and Sugar won the Independent Italian Critics Award for best film at Locarno 2016, as well as Best Film at Carthage and Johannesburg, not to mention Best Director at Cairo, among other honours.

The Hollywood Reporter called it, “Stirring and heartfelt… An epic tale of peril and endurance on an arduous cross-country journey,” while Variety called it “a harrowing account of the extraordinary risks ordinary people were forced to take in order to survive the country’s brutal civil war.”

LOVE ISLAND UK S6 | 5 eps every Saturday; binge from 26 September

For South African fans dying to see the latest season of the BAFTA-winning reality show Love Island UK, the long wait is finally over. And it’s all the more delicious because this is the season that was filmed at a villa in Constantia, Cape Town.

Laura Whitmore of Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! fame is this season’s new host for the drama-packed reality show, where single hopefuls flirt, date, break up and make up while trying to capture the hearts of viewers, who will vote for their favourite couple to take home the £50k prize money.

JOKO YA HAO | Watch now

Inspired by the life of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the 30-minute short film Joko Ya Hao tells the story of Nozizwe, a deeply spiritual Christian woman whose convictions lead her to defy the gender norms of the 1950s and those who believe women don’t belong in politics, leaving her village in Gracetown to fight the oppressive regime and seek help for her people.

Nominated for a 2020 SAFTA for Best Short Film, Joko Ya Hao is directed by SAFTA-winner Mmabatho Montsho (Thula’s Vine) and stars SAMA-winning songstress Simphiwe Dana alongside the likes of Jet Novuka (Uzalo, Yizo Yizo), Khanya Mkangisa (The Queen), Elliot Makhubo (Rhythm City) and Wandile Molebatsi (A Million Colours).

SOL FAMILY | Watch now, new episodes every Monday

Sauti Sol have won an MTV Africa Music Award for Best Group, an MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act, and four All Africa Music Awards. They’ve dined and danced with Barack Obama at State House. They’ve collaborated with Sho Madjozi, Patoranking, Tiwa Savage, Spoek Mathambo, Yemi Alade and India Arie. They’ve had over 150m views on YouTube. And now, they are offering their fans a glimpse into their lives with the brand-new reality series Sol Family, created by Eugene Mbugua (Our Perfect Wedding).

The 13-part series, which also airs on Maisha Magic Plus, explores the lives of band members Bien, Chimano, Polycarp and Savara, exploring how it all began, their music-making process, and the relationships that matter most to them. Sol Family also introduces Nviiri the Storyteller and Bensoul, the two artists who make up Sauti Sol’s passion project, Sol Generation family – a record label launched by the band in 2019 to build their legacy and nurture young music talents in Kenya.

MOTHER TO MOTHER | From 26 August 2020

A filmed account of the stage version of Sindiwe Magona’s novel about the tragic killing of Amy Biehl during the pre-election violence of 1993, Mother to Mother explores the difficult channels of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation from the perspective of the mothers of the killer and the victim. Based on the intimate one-woman play staged by singer, actress and playwright Thembi Mtshali, Mother to Mother seeks an understanding from the mother as she explains the direct consequences of apartheid, which influenced her son’s actions. Interspersed with the filmed theatrical production are personal interviews with Magona and Mtshali, as well as with students from the Western Cape.

Directed by Sara de Gouveia (The Sound of Masks, Mama Goema), Mother to Mother comes to Showmax straight from its world premiere at the 2020 Encounters International Documentary Film Festival, who praised the documentary as “an engaging and thought-provoking work of cinema that expands our collective humanity.”

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

  • Look out for African stars in key roles in a host of international films and series, including South Africa’s Charlize Theron in an Oscar-nominated performance in Bombshell, Kenya’s Edi Gathegi in Briarpatch, and Nigeria’s Weruche Opia in I May Destroy You
  • In Dinner At Somizi’s, Somizi treats famous friends like Jub Jub, Moshe Ndiki, Rami Chuene, Siya Kolisi and Zahara to his favourite dishes. This delectable show comes express from 1Magic every Friday
  • In Cas Oppi Kassie, beloved comedian Casper de Vries makes his long-awaited return with a fresh comedy sketch series guest starring the likes of Schalk Bezuidenhout, Mila Guy, De Klerk Oelofse, and Arno Greeff
  • In The Essentials, filmmaker Dirk Smit follows the lockdown experiences of ordinary South Africans, finding glimmers of hope, creativity and resilience
  • In The Recce, Greg Kriek (Rogue) stars as Henk Viljoen, mistakenly declared killed in action behind enemy lines during the Angolan war. Jacques van Tonder was nominated for Best Cinematography at Camerimage 2018
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Travel Africa With 26 Iconic Movies On Showmax This Africa Month

The borders are closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore your continent this Africa Day, thanks to this starter guide to classic African films on Showmax.

BOTSWANA:

A United Kingdom (2016)

The year before South Africa formalised Apartheid in 1948, King Seretse Khama (two-time Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo) of the neighbouring British protectorate of Bechuanaland married a British white woman, Ruth Williams (Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike). This upset both their families, not to mention the governments of South Africa, South West Africa, Rhodesia and the United Kingdom, who tried to declare Khama unfit to rule.

The opening film of the 2016 BFI London Film Festival, A United Kingdom is more than just a heart-warming true story of love overcoming all odds: it’s also the story of Botswana’s independence, its transition to democracy, and its fight to retain the rights to any diamonds found within its borders.

Director Amma Asante (The Handmaid’s Tale) won the Black Reel Award for Outstanding World Cinema Motion Picture; Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky) won a British Screenwriters’ Award for Best British Feature Film Writing; and South African actress Terry Pheto (Tsotsi) was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Seretse’s sister, Naledi Khama.

A United Kingdom has an 84% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Guardian hailing it as “a beautifully shot, crowd-pleasing gem.”

BURKINA FASO:

Mooladé (2004)

Ousmane Sembène’s Mooladé is set in a village in Burkina Faso, where four young girls flee their ritual ‘purification’ to the household of Colle’ Ardo Gallo Sy, a strong-willed woman who has managed to shield her own teenage daughter from female genital mutilation.

Colle’ invokes the time-honored custom of moolaadé (sanctuary) to protect the fugitives but the ensuing stand-off pits her against the village traditionalists, both male and female, and endangers her daughter’s upcoming marriage.

Mooladé won Un Certain Regard and a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes in 2004. The movie has a 99% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus calls it, “A vibrant, powerful, and poignant glimpse into the struggles of women in modern Africa.” It’s been included in The New Yorker’s list of the Top 25 Films Of The Century So Far, the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century, and Steven Schneider’s 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

CAPE VERDE

Nha Fala / My Voice My Voice (2002)

Flora Gomes’ Nha Fala / My Voice My Voice follows Vita, a young woman from a family in Cape Verde that has been cursed: any woman in the family who sings will be struck dead. But while studying in Paris, she falls in love with a musician and becomes an international star. Convinced she’s proved the curse isn’t real, she returns to Cape Verde to convince her family.

Nha Fala / My Voice My Voice won six international awards, including the Laterna Magic Prize at Venice in 2002, and was the only film from Africa to compete at Berlin that year.

Grammy-nominated Cameroonian star Manu Dibango, who tragically passed away from Covid-19 in March 2020, wrote and produced the film’s music.

EGYPT

Bab El Hadid / Cairo Station (1958)

In Bab El Hadid / Cairo Station, Youssef Chahine both directs and stars as Qinawi, a crippled newspaper vendor who falls for a lemonade seller, Hanouma, who is engaged to another station worker, Abu-Serih. As Abu-Serih tries to unionise the station workers, Qinawi’s fixation on Hanouma crosses the line from innocent crush to dangerous obsession.

Cairo Station was included in The Story of Film, the definitive history of cinema, and Chahine went on to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Cannes in 1997.

The movie has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Time Out praised it as “a great overlooked masterpiece”, The Guardian as“unmissable”, The Hollywood Reporter as “a jewel of a film” and BBC as “an excellent thriller, and one that anticipates the serial killer genre that Hitchcock’s Psycho kick-started a few years later… a cinematic triumph.”

ETHIOPIA

Harvest: 3000 Years (1975)

Haile Gerima’s feature film debut, Harvest: 3000 Years, is set in Ethiopia and follows a slow-boiling feud between a wealthy land-owner and a protestor who feels he is mistreating his labourers.

Shot during the Ethiopian civil war, Harvest: 3000 Years won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Silver Leopard at Locarno in 1976.

Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) presented a restored version of Harvest: 3000 Years at Cannes in 2006 and at Tribeca in 2008. As he wrote for Tribeca, the film “has a particular kind of urgency which few pictures possess. This is the story of an entire people, and its collective longing for justice and good faith. An epic, not in scale but in emotional and political scope.” The Tate Modern also honoured the film with a special screening in 2015.

Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) has hailed Gerima as a “a giant of cinema. A giant, I say.”

ESWATINI

Liyana (2017)

Liyana is a genre-defying documentary that tells the story of five children in the Kingdom of Eswatini who, with some guidance from South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope, turn past trauma into an original fable about a girl named Liyana, who embarks on a perilous quest to save her young twin brothers. The film weaves Liyana’s animated journey together with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance and hope.

Winner of over 35 awards, Liyana is the directorial debut of Swaziland-born-and-raised Aaron Kopp, with his wife Amanda. Before moving into directing, Aaron shot the Oscar-winning documentary Saving Face and the Oscar-nominated The Hunting Ground.

Liyana is executive produced by Emmy winner Thandie Newton (Westworld), produced by Oscar winner Daniel Junge (Saving Face), and edited by Davis Coombe (Chasing Coral, Chasing Ice). Nigerian Shofela Coker created the stunning animated artwork, while South African Philip Miller composed the score.

Entertainment Weekly hailed it as “gorgeous. Unlike any documentary you’ve ever seen,” while The Hollywood Reporter praised it as “A lyrical work, as bright and captivating as it is poignant.”

KENYA

Supa Modo (2018)

Jo (Stycie Waweru) is a witty nine-year-old obsessed with Jackie Chan movies. She’s also terminally ill. When she is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life, her only comfort is her dream of being a superhero – a dream her rebellious teenage sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia), overprotective mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfil…

Directed by Kenyan Likarion Wainana and produced by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume, Babylon Berlin), Supa Modo has won over 50 international awards, including Best European Film For Children at the European Children’s Film Association Awards in 2019, a Children’s Jury Special Mention in the Generation 14Plus category at Berlin in 2019, and the Audience Award at Children’s Film Festival Seattle in 2019.

Supa Modo has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes: Variety called it “a tender, bittersweet fable,” while The Seattle Times wrote, “I’m glad movie theatres are dark because I ugly-cried my way through all 74 minutes of Supa Modo. I straight-up bawled my eyes out… Brutal and beautiful, melancholy and joyous, Supa Modo is simultaneously crushing and uplifting.”

MALAWI:

Buddha in Africa (2019)

In a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa, a Malawian teenager finds himself torn between his African roots and Chinese upbringing. Once the star performer with dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li, Enock is now in his final year of school and has to make some tough decisions about his future. Will he return to his relatives in his home village or study abroad in Taiwan?

Directed by South African Nicole Schafer, Buddha in Africa was praised by Variety as “a complicated portrait of what’s been described as the latest chapter in Africa’s long struggle against colonization.”

Buddha in Africa screened at IDFA 2019, arguably the world’s top documentary festival, as part of their prestigious Best Of Fests line-up, after winning Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival. At the 2020 SAFTAs, Buddha in Africa won both Best Documentary and Best Directing.

MALI:

La Vie Sur Terre / Life on Earth (1998)

Abderrahmane Sissako’s 1998 film La Vie Sur Terre / Life on Earth follows Dramane, who returns from France to visit his father in a village in Mali.

Life on Earth is ranked joint fourth on the Tarifa-Tangiers African Film Festival’s list of the 10 best African films of all time and won 10 international awards, including the Grand Prix at Fribourg, where the FIPRESCI critics jury also gave the film a Special Mention “for the high level of the director’s political debate and the loveable, poetic and ironic view on the everyday life of his characters.”

Sissako went on to direct Timbuktu, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2015 and named one of the Top 25 Films of the 21st Century by The New York Times, among other honours.

SENEGAL:

Hyènes / Hyenas (1992)

In Djibril Diop Mambéty’s 1992 classic Hyènes / Hyenas, an exorbitantly rich woman returns to her poor Senegalese village and forces it to choose between her patronage and her old flame, now the mayor.

Hyenas was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1992 and was ranked joint fourth on the Tarifa-Tangiers African Film Festival’s list of the 10 best African films of all time.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “a wicked skewering of both the rich and those who seek their handouts… Mambety’s beautifully shot and colorfully performed fable entertains, but its final frames are no laughing matter.”

Other African classics on Showmax include:

  • Idrissa Ouedraogo’s breakthrough 1989 film, Yaaba / Grandmother, is the story of two children in Burkina Faso who make friends with an old woman who has been outcast as a witch by her village. At Cannes in 1989, Yaaba shared the FIPRESCI Critics’ Prize with Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape and also took a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury.
  • Ousmane Sembène’s debut 1966 film, La Noire De… / Black Girl, the story of a young Senegalese woman who is employed as a governess for a French family in Dakar and moves with them to the Riviera, where her comfortable duties as a nanny in a wealthy household are replaced by the drudgery and indignities of a maid. Black Girl won the Tanit d’Or at Carthage in 1966, among other prizes; was ranked joint fourth on the Tarifa-Tangiers African Film Festival’s list of the 10 best African films of all time; and was hailed by Oscar winner Martin Scorcese (The Irishman) as “an astonishing movie.”
  • Ousmane Sembène’s Camp De Thiaroye, about the treatment of the French West African Armed Forces after they fought to defend France in World War II. Camp De Thiaroye won six awards at Venice in 1988, including the Grand Special Jury Prize.
  • Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria Why?, about an Egyptian teen who escapes his country’s tense political climate during World War II through his love of American film. Alexandria Why? took home the Special Jury Prize and the C.I.D.A.L.C. Diploma at Berlin in 1979. Chahine went on to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Cannes in 1997.
  • Mbithi Masya’s Kati Kati, about a young amnesiac who wakes up in the middle of the wilderness with no idea how she got there. The Kenyan film won the the FIPRESCI Critics Prize at Toronto in 2016; was named Best East African Film at the 2017 Africa Movie Viewers Choice Awards; and won the New Voices/New Visions Award Special Mention at the Palm Springs International Festival, among other accolades.
  • The Nest Collective’s Stories of Our Lives, an anthology of five short films about the queer experience in Kenya. Stories of Our Lives won seven awards, including the Teddy Jury Award at Berlin in 2015, where the jury hailed its “brave and beautiful filmmaking, based on true stories that cannot fail to touch each one of us.
  • Moussa Sene Absa’s Madame Brouette, about a single mother in Senegal who sells goods from a wheelbarrow but dreams of opening a canteen. Madame Brouette won four international awards, including Best Music at Berlin.
  • Flora Gomes’ Po Di Sangui / Tree of Blood, set in a Guinea-Bissau village where the trees planted upon the birth of each child begin falling rapidly and mysteriously. Tree of Blood competed for the Palme D’Or at Cannes in 1996 and won a Silver Tanit at Carthage, among other honours.
  • Raoul Peck’s Lumumba: Death Of A Prophet, about the assasination of the first prime minister of the post-colonial Democratic Republic of Congo. Lumumba won the Procirep Award at Cinema du Reel in 1992, among other international accolades, while Peck went on to earn an Oscar nomination for I Am Not Your Negro in 2017.
  • Dyana Gaye’s Deweneti, which follows Ousmane, a seven-year-old beggar in Senegal, who decides to write a letter to Santa Claus. Deweneti won six awards, including the Special Jury Award at Clermont-Ferrand, arguably the top short film festival in the world.
  • Njue Kevin’s 18 Hours, based on the true story of a rookie paramedic and his driver who spent 18 hours fighting to save the life of a road accident victim who was denied admission at multiple hospitals in Nairobi. In 2018, 18 Hours became the first Kenyan film to win Best Movie Overall at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

Also look out for FESPACO Grand Prize winners like Mweze Ngangura’s Identity Pieces | Pièces d’identités (DRC, 1999), Gaston Kabore’s Buud Yam (Burkina Faso, 1997), Roger Gnoan M’Bala’s Au Nom Du Christ (Cote d’Ivoire, 1993) and Kwah Ansah’s Heritage Africa (Ghana, 1989), as well as Wanuri Kahiu’s Africa Movie Academy Awards Best Film winner From A Whisper (Kenya, 2009).

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Dillan Oliphant Releases First Showmax Comedy Special

In a time where it’s uncertain on when you’ll be able to go watch your favourite comedian on stage again, you’ll find that being home is actually not such “A Lonely Place”! Dillan Oliphant, better known for his flawless delivery of unique dead-pan one-liner comedy, makes for great viewing in his first Showmax comedy special, In A Lonely Place, which premieres on the 18th of May, 2020.

Entering in his 10th year on the comedy scene, Dillan’s laidback and nonchalant stage presence coupled with his unnervingly clever jokes, makes him a firm fan-favourite.

Filmed in front of a live audience at the Melrose Comedy Club, In A Lonely Place, sees Dillan taking to the stage as he retells stories about growing up in his hometown, Eldorado Park, and becoming a man in the township. He puts the spotlight on his own mental and emotional state.

“People can relate to what I speak about. Things that have happened in my personal life, things that I’m passionate about. You might not be able to see me live on stage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh along with me,” says Dillan.

In A Lonely Place marks Oliphant’s second stand-up comedy special, following Oliphant In The Room which aired on DStv in 2018. While nothing compares to experiencing Dillan’s dry humour live on stage, the comedy special will certainly bring you a bit closer.

To stream In A Lonely Place from Showmax you will need a smartphone or smart TV, an internet connection and an active Showmax subscription.

About Dillan Oliphant:

Having entered the competitive comedy industry 10 years back as a fresh-faced young comedian, Dillan has grown from a novice to making waves nationally. Dillan’s command of his art has rewarded him with several notable achievements and accolades which includes Newcomer of the Year Award at the 2012 SA Comics’ Choice Awards and has been part of several highly acclaimed comedy brands include Kings & Queens of Comedy, Blacks Only and Trevor Noah’s Nationwild tour. He has also made appearances on several TV shows including L.O.L, Comedy Central and Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola. Dillan’s first comedy special, Oliphant In The Room, was aired on DStv in 2018. The comedian has also created a strong online presence for himself with his comical videos on social media.