Citizen Reporter
6 minute read
11 Jan 2021
4:45 pm

7 award-winning South African highlights to stream right now

Citizen Reporter

Check out this list of critically acclaimed local projects to kick off your viewing pleasure for the year.

A still shot from South African drama film, Moffie | Picture: Supplied

Ease your way back into the swing of things by diving into these local stories.

1. Moffie (Drama film)

Set in South Africa, 1981, with the white minority government embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border, the film was adapted from a 2006 autobiographical novel by André Carl van der Merwe.

“Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime. The threat of communism and die swart gevaar is at an all-time high. But that’s not the only danger Nicholas faces. He must survive the brutality of the army – something that becomes even more difficult when a connection is sparked between him and a fellow recruit,” writes Showmax – where the film is currently available.

The film has received much critical acclaim and is currently on the longlist for the Golden Globe’s Foreign Film category.

Moffie also won the Film Critics Special Jury Prize at the 2020 Dublin International Film Festival and has a 100% critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

The film is produced by South African-born Eric Abraham, who has produced two Oscar-winning films: Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida and Jan Sverak’s Kolya. Abraham is also the founder and benefactor of The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town.

2. Fiela Se Kind (Drama film)

This film is the latest adaptation of Dalene Matthee’s beloved novel which follows a coloured woman living in the arid Karoo who takes in a lost white child and raises him as her own. Nine years later, the boy is removed and forced to live in the Knysna Forest with a family of woodcutters who claim he is theirs.

“Separated by law and geography, Fiela and Benjamin spend the next decade trying to find each other while simultaneously coming to terms with their individual identities. Fiela has lost a son and slowly descends into depression, a state of mind that is further exasperated by the abuse that she experiences from both law and Benjamin’s new father as she tries to find him.

Benjamin, on the other hand, is thrust into an abusive and impoverished environment, one where he is forced to take on a new identity while suppressing the one he has.”

In December 2020, Fiela Se Kind won Best Sound at the Africa Movie Academy Awards.

This followed wins for Best Film at the 2020 South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) and the Audience Choice Award at Silwerskerm.

Fiela Se Kind also took home Best Script for writer-director Brett Michael Innes (Sink) at the SAFTAs, Best Score (Kyle Shepherd) at Silwerskerm, and Best Actress for Zenobia Kloppers (Suidooster) at the South African Independent Film Festival.

3. Lebo M – Coming Home (Reality series)

Most popularly known as the first voice you hear in The Lion King after having worked with Hans Zimmer in his Oscar-winning soundtrack, Grammy award winner, a Tony nominee, and the executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Lebo Morake takes on a new role as a reality TV star.

According to Showmax, his songs have been streamed over 250 million times on Spotify alone, and he won the 2020 DStv Mzansi Viewer’s Choice 1Life Legend Award.

Hit Showmax Original reality series Lebo M – Coming Home is now available to binge in full.

The 10-part series promises fans a front-row seat to his career, but it also turns the spotlight onto his biggest dream: bringing his family together.

OPINION: Did Lebo M’s reality show hurt or help his reputation?

4. Noughts + crosses (Alternative history series)

South Africa’s Masali Baduza (Trackers) and BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born To Kill, Peaky Blinders) play Sephy and Callum, two star-crossed lovers in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet, set in an alternate universe where Africa colonised Europe as opposed to the other way round.

Based on Malorie Blackman’s multi-award-winning novel and shot largely in Cape Town with Film Afrika, the series also stars South African actress Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) as Sephy’s mom, Jasmine.

Koby Adom – who is from Ghana, was born in Cote d’Ivoire, and grew up in London – is one of the two directors, while South African costume designer Dihantus Engelbrecht earned a Costume Design – Drama nomination from the 2020 Royal Television Society Awards in the UK for his work on the show.

Noughts + Crosses was named one of “the 10 best British TV shows of 2020” by Mashable.

5. The Letter Reader (Short film)

Inspired by Thabo Mbeki’s biography, A Dream Deferred, The Letter Reader tells the story of Siyabonga (Bahle Mashinini), a 12-year-old boy from Johannesburg who is sent to a village in KwaZulu-Natal to live with his grandmother while his parents are sorting out their marital problems.

As a city boy who is not accustomed to doing household chores, Siyabonga struggles to adapt. He discovers the power of words as he reads letters that put a smile on people’s faces, until one day, a letter with bad news lands in his hands…

The late Andile Gumbi, best known for playing Simba in The Lion King musical and his role on Mzansi Magic drama Isibaya, co-stars, while multiple-SAFTA winner Lance Gewer (Tsotsi, Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word) serves as DOP.

Last December, The Letter Reader was named Best Short Film at The Africa Movie Academy Awards and also won Best Short at the 2020 SAFTAs.

6. Knuckle City (Boxing movie)

Knuckle City was the most awarded film at the 2020 South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs), taking home six awards, including Best Director and Best Actor for Bongile Mantsai (Inxeba, The Wound and’s Scanda!)

Knuckle City follows the story of an ageing, womanising professional boxer (Mantsai) and his career-criminal brother (Thembekile Komani) who take one last shot at success and get more than they’ve bargained for.

Knuckle City is a rare South African film with a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“It is impossible not to be completely consumed by Knuckle City,” wrote The Globe and Mail when the film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, describing it as “Raging Bull meets Rocky, but in South Africa.”

The film was praised for its navigation of “the painful issues of toxic masculinity, age and the impossible-seeming choices one can be forced to make to ensure the survival of themselves and the people they love…”

7. The ghost and the house of truth (Crime drama)

In The Ghost and The House of Truth, Bola Ogun ( played by BAFTA Breakthrough Brit winner Susan Wokoma from Enola Holmes) is a dedicated counsellor who facilitates reconciliation sessions between convicts and the victims of their crimes.

But when her own daughter goes missing, her belief in forgiveness is tested. Shot in Makoko, Nigeria, the award-winning crime drama also stars AMAA Best Actress winner Kate Henshaw (Chief Daddy, 4th Republic) as Folashade, a police inspector in the Child Protection Unit, and AMAA Best Young Actor winner Kemi Lala Akindoju (Dazzling Mirage, Banana Island Ghost, Fifty), who also co-produced.

The Ghost and The House of Truth won Best Editing at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) last December after cementing its status as the third most-nominated film going into the awards, with seven nominations.

The film was directed by Akin Omotoso.

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(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)

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