May 2022 has been a banner month for African content on Showmax, with Africa & I winning Best First Feature Documentary at The Pan African Film and Arts Festival; The Real Housewives of Lagos trending at #1 on Twitter in Nigeria; and Living The Dream With Somizi S5, The Wife S2 finale and The Real Housewives of Durban S2 reunion all trending at #1 on Twitter in South Africa.
But there are many more local gems to watch on Showmax this month, including:
BARAKAT | Stream now
The most-watched local film at the South African box office in 2021, Barakat was South Africa’s official submission for Best International Feature at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022. This made Amy Jephta (Skemerdans, Late Bloomer) the fourth female director to be submitted to the Oscars by South Africa, and the first woman of colour.
Barakat follows Muslim widow Aisha Davids as she tries to bring together her fractured family over Eid-al-Fitr to break the news about her new romance.
As the aging matriarch, Vinette Ebrahim (Skemerdans) won Best Actress at Silwerskerm 2022. Her four sons, still struggling to come to terms with the death of their father two years earlier, are played by Joey Rasdien (Material, New Material), Mortimer Williams (Erfsondes), Keeno-Lee Hector (The Riviera) and Danny Ross (Nommer 37). The cast also includes SAFTA winners Quanita Adams (Forgiveness), SAFTA nominees Bonnie Mbuli (Noughts & Crosses, The Republic) and Leslie Fong (Isidingo), as well as June van Merch (Sara se Geheim), who won Best Supporting Actress at Silwerskerm 2022, where Barakat also took home Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, Costume Design and Production Design, making it this year’s biggest winner at the festival.
The touching film has won 13 awards so far, including Best International Feature at the 2021 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema and Best Narrative Feature at both the Motion Pictures International Film Festival and The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Festival in 2020. New Frame praises it as “a layered, intimate and infinitely human story about family that provides a powerful counter-narrative to Muslim stereotypes” while Rapport’s Leon van Nierop celebrates it as “a jewel that shines in its humanity.”
NEW MATERIAL | Stream now
Life is not a funny business, but New Material, the long-awaited sequel to the 2012 triple-SAFTA-winning comedy, Material, definitely is.
Written by Comics’ Choice Award winner Riaad Moosa and director Craig Freimond (Gums & Noses, Jozi, Vaya), New Material catches up with stand-up comic Cassim almost 10 years on, as he tries to figure out family, belonging and taking his comedy from Fordsburg to the world – or at least on a cross-country road trip.
Both Riaad and Vincent Ebrahim (The Kumars at No. 42) reprise their SAFTA-winning roles from the first film, along with Joey Rasdien (Barakat, Bunny Chow), Carishma Basday (Tali’s Baby Diary), Zakeeya Patel (The Girl from St. Agnes, The Wild) and SAFTA winner Denise Newman (Shirley Adams, Suidooster), while SAFTA winner Schalk Bezuidenhout (Kanarie, Hotel) and Rajesh Gopie (Keeping Up with the Kandasamys) are among the new cast.
New Material was the second most-watched local film at the South African box office in 2021. As Spling says, “Gravitating from laugh out loud moments to quiet weeping, New Material is one of those special movie experiences that’s best shared with friends and family.”
GOMORA S3 | Binge the first 18 episodes now, with new episodes daily
Gomora S3 picked up after the bloody S2 finale and the drama hasn’t slowed yet.
So far, we’ve already met three new characters this season. Duncan Leballo (Aubrey Makola from The Station and Skeem Saam) is a suave record executive with a thing for young girls. Mike Junior (Isithembiso‘s Tiisetso Thoka), aka June-July, wants to ensure that Sonto does not enjoy her life after what she did to his dad, Bra Mike. And Nolo Makinta (The River‘s Jessica Sithole) is a failed slay queen, who is traumatised by all the things rich men put her through – and drawn to Thati as another wounded woman.
In episode 25, we’ll meet another new character: Andile Faku (The Queen‘s Moshe Ndiki), a new teacher at Gomora High. Gambling ruined his life; he lost his lavish life in Sandton and cushy private school job. He thinks his new career is beneath him but his sense of humour makes him hard to dislike.
And in episode 42, Nkosinathi Cele (Fezile Makhanya from Rockville and The Queen) will debut as a smooth-talking but authoritarian high school principal who clashes with parents. He is unhappily married but soon crosses paths with the woman he knows he should have married.
Gomora was named most Popular TV Soap / Telenovela at the 2021 SAFTAs, where it also took home Best Directing for Thabang Moleya, Nthabiseng Mokoena, Nozipho Nkelemba and Lufuno Nekhabambe.
THE RIVER S5 | Binge 73 episodes now, with new episodes daily
As Lindiwe in The River, Sindi Dlathu won the Best Actress SAFTA in 2021 – for the second year in a row. Now Tina Dlathu, her younger sister, is following in her footsteps, joining the cast of 1Magic’s thrill-a-minute, iEmmy-nominated telenovela.
Tina plays Khwezi Hlophe, part of a wealthy and dangerous mafioso family that’s set to stir things up this season. She joins the family business after they buy into Khanyisa Diamonds.
Bheki Mkhwane (Samson Ndlovu in Isibaya) plays her father, Bukhosi, a traditional patriarch with a military background. Nomafu (Brenda Mhlongo from Generations: The Legacy) is his younger second wife, who will become Lindiwe’s biggest rival yet.
Mlilo and Nkanyiso, Bukhosi’s sons from his first marriage, are played by newcomers Vuyo Biyela and Unathi Mkhize. They have a strained relationship with their father, but he wants them to take over the family business. At the 2021 SAFTAs, Meshack Mavuso Magabane also won Supporting Actor as Nsizwa, while The River also picked up four craft awards.
STRANGERS YOU KNOW S1 | Binge now
From the producers of Carte Blanche, Strangers You Know is a hard-hitting true crime docuseries that uncovers the stories behind some of the most brutal crimes in South Africa’s recent history.
Season 1 includes the tragic cases of Karabo Mokoena, Anene Booysen, baby Jenna May, Gill Packham, Jayde Panayiotou, Palesa Madiba, and the Mooinooi farm murders.
Strangers You Know focuses on cases of gender-based violence and women who lost their lives at the hands of men they knew. Crucially, these are also cases where the perpetrators have been convicted.
SO MUCH MORE LOCAL FLAVOUR ON SHOWMAX THIS MAY
The Showmax Original romcom Troukoors S2 is firmly established as the most popular Afrlkaans content on the platform right now, while the African streaming service has also just released two of the most acclaimed African films of recent years: the multi-award-winning cult classic Fried Barry, named Rotten Tomatoes‘ 10th best-reviewed sci-fi of 2021, and Softie, the Kenyan political documentary that won a Special Jury Award for Editing at Sundance and was nominated for International Documentary Association, News and Documentary Emmy, and Producers Guild of America awards in 2021.