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11 African Highlights to Stream on Showmax Right Now

From ‘Chasing The Sun’ to ‘Legacy’

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Chasing the Sun. Die Verhaal Van Racheltjie de Beer. Unmarried. Legacy. A New Country. Famalam. Enslaved.

CHASING THE SUN | Docuseries

Two years before captain Siya Kolisi raised the Webb Ellis Cup at the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Tokyo, South Africa lost 57-0 to New Zealand – the heaviest defeat in their history.

Chasing the Sun is the five-part docu-series of how Kolisi, coach Rassie Erasmus, and the rest of the Bokke recovered from that humiliation, transforming a team and inspiring a nation as they pulled off one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.

SuperSport was granted unprecedented access to the Springboks both in the build-up to and during the tournament, which helped produce incredible behind-the-scenes footage that goes to the heart of what it took to defy the odds and reclaim World Cup glory.

DIE VERHAAL VAN RACHETLJIE DE BEER | Movie

South Africa’s wilderness in the 1800s: Five years after their mother died, Racheltjie and five-year-old Jamie find themselves on their way to the gold fields with their father, Herman, to start a new life. But winter is closing in fast, and when Jamie goes missing in a freak snowstorm, Rachel must brave the deadly cold to search for her little brother…

The beloved heroine of this Afrikaans folktale is brought to life by Zonika de Vries (Dis Koue Kos, Skat), who won the Young Actress award for the role at the 2019 Silwerskerm Festival. The film also took Best Actor (Stian Bam from Modder en Bloed), Production Design and Visual Effects at Silwerskermfees, the Kidseye award at this year’s Rhode Island Film Festival, and three Golden Horns – for Cinematography, Sound Design, and Original Score – at the 2020 SAFTAs.

The stellar cast includes SAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marius Weyers, Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award winner Sandra Prinsloo, and SAFTA winners Antoinette Louw (An Act of DefianceGoodbye Bafana) and Seputla Sebogodi (GenerationsThe Republic), with newcomer Johannes Jordaan as Jamie.

 The movie is directed by Matthys Boshoff (Vlees van My Vlees, Huggies’ award-winning Baby Marathon campaign), who co-wrote the script with Brett Michael Innes (Fiela se Kind, Sink).

Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer was the ninth biggest local movie at the SA box office last year. As Channel24’s Leandra Engelbracht says, “The Story of Racheltjie De Beer breathes life into the fabled tale; it is a definite must-watch. Be sure to take some tissues with you.”

UNMARRIED| Drama series

Following the success of its first season and last year’s subsequent spinoff in Nigeria, this hugely popular drama series is back with a brand-new 16-episode season. Unmarried follows the lives of three young female friends living in Jozi, as they deal with the pressures of juggling marriage, motherhood, relationships, and their careers from the township to the suburbs, to the high-end apartment lifestyle of the “super blessed”.

The series stars SAFTA winner Renate Stuurman (The RiverHappiness Is a Four-Letter Word) as corporate high-flyer, Brenda; Lunathi Mampofu (The Queen, The River) as newcomer Claudia; and SAFTA and DSTV Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Award winner Thembisa Mdoda-Nxumalo (Baby MamasOur Perfect Wedding) as the shining star of the trio, Thembi.

New episodes land on Showmax every Monday at 8pm, at the same time as the Mzansi Magic broadcast.

LEGACY | Telenovela

Set in the cut-throat world of investment billionaires, Legacy follows Sebastian Price, the patriarch of a super-wealthy family, who’s fast approaching retirement… leaving the keys to the kingdom up for grabs.

The M-Net telenovela boasts a formidable cast including SAFTA winners Kgomotso Christopher (IsidingoScandal), Deon Lotz (SkoonheidMandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Siyabonga Thwala (IsibayaThe Republic), Mary-anne Barlow (The River), and Leeanda Reddy (Isidingo), as well as the iconic Michelle Botes (IsidingoBinnelanders), SAFTA nominees Don Mlangeni Nawa (Isidingo) and Dawid Minnaar (Poppie NongenaDie Wonderwerker), and rising stars Reandi Grey (7de Laan), Jay Anstey (Isidingo), Trix Vivier (Trackers), Anton David Jeftha (Strike BackHomelandSuidooster), and Sean-Marco Vorster (Alles Malan).

Legacy is the brainchild of SAFTA winners Phathu Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon, who created the International Emmy-nominated telenovela The RiverThe Republic, named Best Drama at the 2020 SAFTAs; and Gomora, recently named Most Popular Soapie at the 2020 Royalty Soapie Awards.

SAFTA winners Johnny Barbuzano (The River, The Republic, Still Breathing), Catharine Cooke (The River, The Girl from St. Agnes) and Krijay Govender (The WildGa Re Dumele) are directing.

A NEW COUNTRY | Documentary

How did we get from the euphoria of 1994 to the fractured South Africa of today?

Through forthright interviews with informal workers, politicians, academics, and artists, director Sifiso Khanyile (Uprize) traces our journey as a country over the past three decades, and looks at the state of the Rainbow Nation today.

A New Country earned a Special Mention at this year’s Jozi Film Festival, where Khanyile won Best Director.

Encounters called the documentary “heartbreakingly insightful,” adding that it shows “a contemporary society that is increasingly fractured and in which the culture of resistance and protest is as strong and vital as it was during the height of legislated apartheid.”

GOMORA | Telenovela

 Gomora recently won the public vote as Most Popular Soapie of the Year at the 2020 Royalty Soapie Awards, also taking home jury prizes for Outstanding Directing Team, Supporting Actress (Sannah Mchunu as Zodwa) and Newcomer (Sicelo Buthelezi as Teddy).

The twisty Mzansi Magic telenovela stars SAFTA winner Katlego Danke (Isidingo, Generations) as Thathi, a spoiled trophy wife whose posh Sandton life is stripped away in an instant. With no money and no job, Thathi is forced to pull her teenage kids out of their private schools and enrol them in a public school in Alexandra.

They also have to move back in with her mother, Mam’Sonto (SAFTA winner Connie Chiume from Black Panther), a woman whose strict standards and grandmotherly care for her family mask her true nature as the queen of crime in Alexandra.

The all-star cast also includes SAFTA winners Themba Ndaba (The QueenHopeville) and Zolisa Xaluva (Blood PsalmsSew The Winter To My Skin), as well as Blood & Water star Ama Qamata and Thembi Seete of Boom Shaka and Zone 14 fame, alongside fresh faces like Buthelezi, Ntobeko Sishi and Siphesihle Ndaba.

Gomora was created by executive producer Kutlwano Ditsele (The Herd) with Gwydion Beynon and Phathutshedzo Makwarela of Tshedza Pictures, who brought us the two most-awarded shows at the 2020 SAFTAs: Best Drama winner The Republic and Best Telenovela winner The River, which was also up for an International Emmy last year. Amanda Lane (Is’thunzi) is co-creator.

BACK OF THE MOON | Movie

Back of the Moon recently won Best International Narrative Feature at the Montreal International Black Film Festival, after being named Best South African Feature Film at Durban International Film Festival and Best Costume Design at the 2020 South African Film and Television Award (SAFTAs).

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.

Back of the Moon is directed and co-written by Oscar nominee Angus Gibson (Mandela28UP South Africa), who also recently took home a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Royalty Soapie Awards. The film is produced by The Bomb Shelter (Yizo Yizo), and exec produced by William Kentridge and Anant Singh.

“I am really happy that this subtitled film about an obscure moment in South African history found a responsive audience on this North American platform,” says Angus.

SAFTA winners S’dumo Mtshali (Is’thunziIsiBayaiNumber Number), Thomas Gumede (Single GuysBay of Plenty), and Siyabonga Thwala (LegacyThe Republic) co-star.

PARABLE  | Movie

 Parable recently won Best Film at NOLA Horror Film Festival in New Orleans, named one of the world’s top 50 genre film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine.

Showmax favourite Jane De Wet (The Girl From St AgnesRage) plays Esther, a teenage girl forced into gay conversion therapy. When a famous lay preacher, Reverend Randal Day, accidentally conjures a demonic spirit while trying to ‘cure’ her, he tries to hide his mistake in a church house deep within a security complex.

The gated community is home to Kasper, a slacker with a recently tarnished reputation, who starts getting dream visits from the missing girl in the news – and she wants his help to escape…

Fleur du Cap winner Michael Richard (Still Breathing, Disgrace) was nominated as Best Actor at NOLA as Reverend Day, with SAFTA nominee Beer Adriaanse (Ekstra MediumBuurtwag) competing for Best Director.

“We shot this baby in 12 days, with a limited budget and stuck it all together with 22 litres of blood and about five tons of love and respect for the craft,” says Beer. “Dik trots.”

VULA VALA | Drama series

From multi-SAFTA winners Black Brain Pictures (Lockdown), Vula Vala is Mzansi Magic’s hit new Sunday night drama, which follows Mzi (Khanyisani Kheswa), an aspiring soccer player, who leaves Ladysmith to go work for his uncle and find a better life in Johannesburg. He finds himself playing for The Scorpions, a team owned by retired soccer star Bra Rex (Sello Maake Ka-Ncube from The RiverThe Herd, and Blood & Water), a ruthless businessman whose past life is about to catch up with him.

SAFTA winner Tina Jaxa (Gold DiggersWhile You Weren’t Looking) co-stars as Bra Rex’s wife, while Darlington Michaels (Papa G in Isidingo) plays Gab, a small-time hustler who is the first to recognise Mzi’s talent.

New episodes come to Showmax on Sunday nights after Vula Vala airs on Mzansi Magic.

FAMALAM S3 | Sketch comedy

Nigerian Gbemisola Ikumelo picked up a 2020 BAFTA nomination for her performance in Famalam, which has also earned writer-producer Akemnji Ndifornyen a BAFTA TV Craft Award and Samson Kayo nominations for Best Comedy Performance at both the BAFTAs and the Royal Television Society Awards.

Now the BBC’s hilarious sketch comedy is back for its third season. Learn how to make White People Chicken, see our favourite aunties handle their nephew coming out, and discover Nollywood’s ‘finest’. We’ll also get to check out Idris Elba’s skill set (Idris Elba can do anything!), and watch the rudest Midsomer Murders ever.

The Independent (UK) calls it “a sublime achievement of satire,” saying, “Like all the best sketch shows, Famalam is a mix of comforting recurring characters and scenes, but tweaked with a delightful and clever wit on every outing.”

ENSLAVED | Documentary series

Enslaved is a six-episode docuseries that explores 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World by following the efforts of Diving with a Purpose, as they search for and locate six slave ships that went down with their human cargo.

Executive produced and featuring Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp FictionAvengers), Enslaved tracks the efforts of divers as they utilise new methods of underwater archaeology to identify and locate these sunken slave ships for the first time in history.

These modern-day adventures serve as a springboard to tell the stories of the ideology, economics and politics of slavery, while also celebrating stories of resistance, the cultures left behind and the culture that we live in.

The series also traces Jackson’s DNA back to Gabon, where he visits in the first episode to locate his own ancestors in the Benga tribe.

New episodes of Enslaved come to Showmax every Wednesday, same day as M-Net. You can binge from 25 November.

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Netflix

Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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