11 African highlights to stream on Showmax, from HBO specials to 2020 BAFTA nominees to the biggest SA film of 2019
Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!, Famalam, Still Breathing, Rafiki, Kandasamys: The Wedding, Alles Malan & more
YVONNE ORJI: MOMMA, I MADE IT! | Watch now
In her first HBO comedy special, Nigeria’s Yvonne Orji, better known as Molly from Insecure, has the audience rolling with laughter as she brings her razor-sharp wit and confidence to the stage. Both celebrating and poking fun at her strict, formative Nigerian-American upbringing, Yvonne shares her unique journey from pre-med to comedy, talks about parental pressures to get married, and takes us along to Lagos to meet her family and friends.
Entertainment Weekly calls Momma, I Made It! “an hour of joy”, IndieWire hails it as “a rip-roaring standup special,” and Fast Company says it’s “the laugh the black community needs right now.”
Yvonne also recently earned for her fourth Black Reel nomination in a row as Molly in Insecure.
FAMALAM S1-2 | Binge now
Nigeria’s Gbemisola Ikumelo was recently nominated for a 2020 BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy for Famalam, a “quickfire, playful comedy rooted in the black British experience,” to quote The Guardian.
Skits like a black Jesus appearing to a white parishioner, or a black superhero expecting to be congratulated by police, or a Slave Lives Matter protest interrupted by someone questioning whether they should rather say ‘all lives matter’ will have you laughing hysterically – not least because the alternative is to cry. There are also regular instalments of Midsomer Motherf*ckin’ Murders, about a black cop in a white man’s world; of aunties who go to war over everything from leftovers to whose grandson is more impressive; and of trailers for Nollywood remakes, from Game of Thrones to Love Island.
Directed by Tom Marshall (Chewing Gum), the BBC series was hailed as “a sublime achievement of satire” by The Independent and “something special” by Refinery29, with writer and producer Akemnji Ndifornyen taking home a 2019 Breakthrough Talent BAFTA and Samson Kayo earning Best Comedy Performance nominations at both the BAFTAs and Royal Television Society Awards.
TRACKERS | Binge now
Fresh from outperforming Game of Thrones – and everything else on M-Net last year – Trackers was released internationally by HBO and Cinemax in June.
In America, Meaww raved, “Packed with thrills and chills, Trackers whisks viewers towards a violent conspiracy involving organized crime, state security, and an international terrorist plot… James Gracie and Thapelo Mokoena take centre stage with their amazing performances,” while The New York Times called it “a more polished product than Blood & Water… more easily entertaining…. James Gracie… can do a lot with silent looks of doubt and reproach.” In Israel, Haaretz called it “the guilty pleasure” of the week, adding, “it comes to life when it places Cape Town front and center.” And in New Zealand, Stuff called it “a high-octane thriller… a good rollicking story.”
Based on Deon Meyer’s bestselling novel, Trackers was a co-production between M-Net, HBO’s sister channel Cinemax and Germany’s ZDF.
STILL BREATHING S1 | Binge now
“Two years ago, I lost my sister to breast cancer,” says Still Breathing creator and star Tiffany Barbuzano, a two-time Best Actress winner at the SAFTAs, for Sober Companion and 4Play:Sex Tips for Girls. “Writing this show was me getting through that grief in my life.”
The result is an intensely personal M-Net show about life, death and the mess in between, directed by her husband, six-time SAFTA winner Johnny Barbuzano (The River, The Republic), and starring their children, Jamie and Jesse.
Other cast include Brandon Auret (District 9), Kate Liquorish (Queen Sono); Ty Keogh and Jane de Wet from The Girl From St Agnes; Siv Ngesi (Knuckle City); and Lorcia Cooper (Lockdown), among other big names. Bestselling author Deon Meyer says, “Masterfully crafted, beautifully shot and brilliantly acted, this is must-watch TV,” while The Girl From St Agnes director Cindy Lee said on Facebook, “Incredible… Still Breathing literally takes your breath away. I had to remind myself to breathe… World-class television.”
KANDASAMYS: THE WEDDING | Watch now
Having survived their meddling parents’ attempts to break them up in the 2017 hit movie, Keeping Up with the Kandasamys, Jodi (Mishqah Parthiepal) and Prishen (Madushan Singh) are headed down the aisle at last. It’s going to be the wedding of the year – if they can survive their respective mothers.
Shanthi Naidoo (Maeshni Naicker) has everything planned, down to the smallest detail but, as always, Jennifer Kandasamy (Jailoshini Naidoo) is ready to out-do her. After all, “the Kandasamys don’t do small”…
The most popular South African movie in cinemas last year, and the 17th biggest film overall, this romantic comedy drama is once again directed by Jayan Moodley and was an even bigger hit than its predecessor.
RAFIKI | Watch now
“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, as well as a 2020 GLAAD Media Award nomination for Best Limited Release Film. 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.
BACK OF THE MOON | Watch now
Sophiatown 1958: On the eve of the forced removals, gang leader Badman (SAFTA nominee Richard Lukunku from Happiness Is a Four-Letter Word) meets the gorgeous Eve Msomi (Moneoa Moshesh from Rhythm City), a torch-singer on the brink of an international career, and finds that fighting to the death becomes a whole lot harder when you have something to live for.
Named Best South African Feature film at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival, Back of the Moon is directed and co-written by Oscar nominee Angus Gibson (Mandela, 28UP South Africa), produced by The Bomb Shelter (Yizo Yizo), and exec produced by William Kentridge and Anant Singh. The film won a 2020 SAFTA for Costume Design and was nominated for a further three, for Editing, Score, and Production Design.
SAFTA winners S’dumo Mtshali (Is’thunzi, IsiBaya, iNumber Number), Thomas Gumede (Single Guys, Bay of Plenty), and Siyabonga Thwala (Isibaya, The Republic, Intersexions) co-star.
ALLES MALAN S1 | Binge now
Frik (Ivan Zimmermann from Egoli), the liberal eldest son of the Malan family, returns to South Africa from the UK to take over the family transport business from his more conservative father (Fleur du Cap winner Albert Maritz from Dwaalster). His wife, Tessa (ATKV-mediaveertjie Best Actress in a Soap winner Nadia Valvekens from Binnelanders), and two teenage children (Greteli Fincham from Blood & Water and Mateo Olivier from Fiela Se Kind) return with him, but each has a struggle of their own.
Set in Paarl, Alles Malan was co-created by dynamic husband-and-wife duo Corné and René van Rooyen, who’ve directed six films between them, including the Silwerskerm Best Film winner Vaselinetjie, which they co-wrote and Corné directed. They’ve assembled an impressive cast on Alles Malan, which includes Nicole Fortuin (Flatland, Rage), Sean Marco Vorster (Die Windpomp), and South African Film and Television Award Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marius Weyers, as well as cameos from The Girl From St Agnes’ villain Tristan de Beer and The Harvesters’ breakout star Brent Vermeulen.
At this year’s SAFTAs, in the Drama category, the kykNET series was nominated for Best Original Score, Sound Design and Make-up and Hairstyling.
LOSING LERATO | Watch now
When life, the law, and the woman he once loved separate him from his child, an estranged young father takes matters into his own hands and finds himself in a high-stakes hostage situation.
Losing Lerato, the debut film from SAFTA-nominated actor and producer Kagiso Modupe, was the second-biggest South African movie at the local box office last year.
Kagiso (best known for his long-running role in Scandal!) stars as the desperate dad, Thami, while his real-life daughter, nine-year-old Tshimollo Modupe, plays Lerato.
The cast includes SAFTA winners Connie Chiume (Black Panther, Gomora, Zone 14), Don Mlangeni (Isidingo), and Patrick Mofokeng (Heartlines), as well as SAFTA nominees Samela Tyelbooi (It’s Complicated) and Zandile Msutwana (White Wedding).
At this year’s Idyllwild International Festival in California, Losing Lerato won Best of Festival, Best Actor for Kagiso, Best Actress for Samela, Best Performance by a Child for Tshimillo, Best Score and the Golden Era Humanitarian Award.
HOUSEKEEPERS S2 | Binge now
You can’t keep secrets from your housekeeper, which was bad news for the Zwide family in Season 1 of this hit Mzansi Magic series. When nurse June was framed for killing her patient, her daughter Linda (SAFTA nominee Thando Thabethe) left her law career to exonerate her mother – by posing as the Zwide’s housekeeper.
Season 2 sees Linda join a new family with links to her mother’s death, the Ngubanes, and adds more twists, and even more stars, including SAFTA winner Lorcia Khumalo (Lockdown, Still Breathing), SAFTA nominees Xolile Tshabalala (Muvhango, 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) and Lindani Nkosi (Generations), as well as Sthembiso Khoza, best known as Shaka on The Queen, and Kwezi Ndlovu, aka Vivian in Isithembiso.
TYDELIK TERMINAAL S1 | Binge now
“It’s the best cancer to get,” Dr Pillay tells the bewildered 22-year-old honours student Kittie Claassen (Carla Smith from Binnelanders, in a 2020 ATKV-Mediaveertjies winning performance) as he hands her a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease. But Kittie has plans, she has things to do, not the least of which is cracking her journalistic aspirations and enjoying her first burst of young adult freedom with her best friends Mandy (Eve Nthabiseng Rasimeni from Z’bondiwe and Suidooster) and Fanie (Suidoosterfees and Silwerskermfees winning actor/writer Hendrik Nieuwoudt from Fynskrif).
Tydelik Terminaal (Temporarily Terminal) is a heart-warming and hope-filled kykNet miniseries based on creator Elanie Rupping’s own battle with cancer. It’s produced by six-time SAFTA-nominees Nouvanaand Films, who’ve given us comedy gold like Hotel, while Silwerskerm winner Etienne Fourie (Die Windpomp) directs the pilot.
The all-star cast also includes SAFTA winner Anna-Mart van der Merwe (Poppie Nongena) in a 2020 ATKV-Mediaveertjies winning performance; Blood & Water star Arno Greeff; SAFTA winner Tiffany Barbuzano (Still Breathing); SAFTA nominees Zane Meas (Isidingo) and Anel Alexander (Sink); and Frank Opperman (Dominee Tienie).
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL, FOLKS
Other talked-about African content on Showmax includes:
- In Africa Magic’s lockdown-themed Big Brother Naija 5, strangers are competing for a whopping N85m grand prize – the highest prize for a reality TV show on the continent, which includes a N30m cash prize; a two-bedroom apartment courtesy of Revolution Plus; a top of the range SUV from Nigerian automaker, Innoson Motors; a trip to Dublin courtesy of Guinness; and a trip to Dubai packaged by Travelbeta, among other perks. Showmax has a 24 hour live stream, as well as daily and weekly highlights
- In Dinner At Somizi’s, Somizi hosts famous friends like Zahara and shows off his favourite dishes. This delectable show comes express from 1Magic every Friday
- In The Bachelor SA S2, 22 women line up to vie for the heart of hunky bachelor Marc Buckner. This hit M-Net show is available to binge now on Showmax
- 2020 SAFTA nominee crime comedy Ander Mens, starring Silwerskerm winner Bennie Fourie from Vuil Wasgoed, and directed by SAFTA winner Quentin Krog (Die Byl), hailed by Bizcommunity as “the Tarantino of SA filmmakers” in their review
- Huis Lelieveld S1, kykNET’s Ouboet en Wors spinoff from Willie Esterhuizen, set in a retirement home
- kykNET’s Dwaalster, winner of six 2020 ATKV Mediafees awards, for Erica Wessels as Ragel-Lee, Albert Maritz as Frans Loots, Tarryn Wyngaard as Gina Devine, Jorrie van der Walt’s cinematography, Rocco Pool’s production design and Pierre-Henri Wicomb’s score
- kykNET’s Die Spreeus, winner of five 2020 ATKV Mediafees awards, for Monique Rockman as Beatrice, Chris Vorster as Bas, Jorrie van der Walt’s cinematography, Rocco Pool’s production design and Pierre-Henri Wicomb’s score