All posts by John Winfield

Rattlesnake sweeps Africa Magic awards

Nollywood movie Rattlesnake – The Ahanna Story was the big winner at the eighth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs), taking home four gongs.

At last weekend’s ceremony in Lagos, Rattlesnake won for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Cinematographer.

Meanwhile, The Rishantes, from Dimbo Atiya, won Best Africa Magic Original Drama Series. It beat competition from Movement-Japa (Femi Odugbemi), Riona (James Omokwe), Unmarried (Uche Ikejimba), Dilemma (Uche Ikejimba), Venge (Tosin Igho & Rogba Arimoro), Eve (Winifred Nwokedi) and Enakhe (Victor Sanchez Aghahowa).

The Mystic River, from Rogers Ofime, won the Best Television Series award. The other nominees were The Smart Money Woman, Rumour Has It S3, Little Black Book, My Name A-Zed, Butuku and Jenifa’s Diary.

Elsewhere, the Best MultiChoice Talent Factory award was won by Daisy Masembe for her comedy short film Engaito, beating nominees including Bride Untangled (Abisola Aboaba), Nyau- Masuzyo Mwale, Cosmas Ngandwe, Abel Ngoma and Edward Sakala, Rebirth (Brian Ontiri), Oko K3 Akueteh (Christine Boateng and Eric Okyerefo).

Veteran Nigerian actress, journalist and television presenter Taiwo Ajai-Lycett received the industry merit award, while the Trailblazer award was presented to Teni Aladese for outstanding achievement from a young and upcoming act.

The eighth edition of the AMVCAs was organised by Africa Magic in association with pay TV group MultiChoice. The event was hosted by Nigerian TV presenter IK Osakioduwa and South African radio host and presenter Bonang Matheba.

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South Africa’s e.TV shops at Vice

South African free-to-air network e.TV has done its first content deal with the sales arm of youth-skewing media outfit Vice, picking up more than 400 hours of unscripted content.

Bea Hegedus

Under the partnership with Vice Distribution, Vice content will be made available across South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa for the first time.

The programming includes Vice franchises like Dark Side of the Ring, Most Expensivest, Black Market and F*** That’s Delicious.

Premium Vice content such as The Big Squeeze, a feature doc on the Gamestop stock squeeze, and true crime docuseries Betraying the Badge, about rogue police officers, will also air.

Announcing the deal, Bea Hegedus, Vice’s global head of distribution, said: “With our common values and shared commitment to premium storytelling, Vice’s unparalleled, diverse range of programming and unique voice has found a fantastic home in South Africa. We look forward to working with e.TV in forging a profound and long-term partnership in the region.”

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Ncuti Gatwa lands Doctor Who lead

Rwandan-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa has been revealed as the next star of long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who, becoming the show’s first black lead.

Ncuti Gatwa

First airing on BBC One in 1963, Doctor Who follows the adventures of a Time Lord known only as The Doctor, who explores the universe in a time-travelling spaceship called the TARDIS.

Gatwa landed the part after appearing in Netflix’s critically acclaimed series Sex Education, for which he was nominated for a Bafta for Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme.

The Doctor has been played by 13 other actors over the years, including Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Matt Smith and David Tennant. Gatwa will take over from Jodi Whittaker, the first woman to play the part.

The show was revived by writer Russell T Davies (It’s a Sin, Years & Years) in 2005, having originally aired from 1963 to 1989.

Gatwa said: “There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care. I will endeavour my utmost to do the same.

“Russell T Davies is almost as iconic as the Doctor himself, and being able to work with him is a dream come true. His writing is dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent and fizzing with danger. An actor’s metaphorical playground. The entire team has been so welcoming and truly give their hearts to the show. And so as much as it’s daunting, I’m aware I’m joining a really supportive family. Unlike the Doctor, I may only have one heart but I am giving it all to this show.”

Davies, head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, added: “The future is here and it’s Ncuti! Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars.

“Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of The Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot – I can’t wait to get started. I’m sure you’re dying to know more, but we’re rationing ourselves for now, with the wonderful Jodie’s epic finale yet to come. But I promise you, 2023 will be spectacular!”

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EbonyLife studied at Harvard again

Mo Abudu (centre) with Harvard professors Andy Wu and Feng Zhu

Nigeria’s EbonyLife has again been selected as a case study to be covered at Harvard Business School as the prestigious Boston college celebrates 100 years of teaching using the case study method.

The news comes after a case study about the Lagos-based media company, led by CEO Mo Abudu, was taught last year at the Harvard Business School to over 1,000 MBA students, as part of the required curriculum classes for all first-year students.

Abudu said on Instagram: “I am pleased to inform you all that the EbonyLife Harvard Business School case study is now one of the selected case studies in celebration of the Harvard Business School’s 100 years of teaching the case study method.

“I look forward to joining Professors Andy Wu and Feng Zhu as we reflect on the never-ending EbonyLife journey.”

EbonyLife TV, a subsidiary of EbonyLife Media, started as a pan-African entertainment channel that was launched on the DStv platform in 2013 to sub-Saharan Africa. EbonyLife Media no longer runs a linear TV network but instead produces African content for third-party platforms around the globe, most recently with thriller miniseries Blood Sisters for Netflix.

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kykNET, Red Letter produce SA film

Hans Steek die Rubicon Oor (Hans Crosses the Rubicon)

Afrikaans television channel kykNET, owned by South African pay TV operator M-Net, and Stellenbosch-based film and TV prodco Red Letter Day Pictures have collaborated to produce a film called Hans Steek die Rubicon Oor (Hans Crosses the Rubicon).

The film is produced by Rudi van Rensburg and based on his book of the same name, with Corné van Rooyen directing. It follows a hopeful 90-year-old man named whose life is turned upside down when he is forced to move to a nursing home.

Actor Pierre van Pletzen, who plays the lead role, said: “There is so much pressure in society to stay young that I am excited to show the other side. I want to show how growing old on your own terms can be celebrated and can be very exciting. It is also a great privilege to work with some of South Africa’s greatest veteran actors to really bring Rudi’s book to life.”

Other cast members include Cronjé, June van Merch, Sandra Prinsloo, Nicola Hanekom, Diaan Lawrenson and Juan-Pierre Moller. The premiere date for Hans Steek die Rubicon Oor has yet to be announced.

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Netflix unveils new African collection

In celebration of Africa Day on May 25 and Africa Month throughout May, global streaming platform Netflix has launched a new collection of content titled From Cape to Cairo.

The collection aims to highlight African stories and storytellers from across the continent.

Netflix said: “There’s plenty that’s unique about Africa, from being the world’s hottest continent to being home to more than 1.2 billion people spread over 54 countries who speak more than 2,000 different languages. With this rich cultural heritage, there’s a multitude of stories to be told from, and about, the continent and its people.”

From Cape to Cairo will feature African films including Silverton Siege and Man of God. It will also include South African true crime docuseries Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star, reality show Young Famous & African, drama series King of Boys: Return of the King, Nigerian show Blood Sisters and South African title Savage Beauty.

In addition, the collection will showcase content focusing on African culture and history, content from female African creators and programming from the African diaspora.

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Lifetime Africa channel to close next month

Lifetime Africa, an entertainment channel from US-based A+E Networks that provides scripted drama series, factual entertainment and feature-length movies, has confirmed reports of its imminent closure.

Nazarene Khan

In a statement, the channel said: “We regret to inform you that on 31 May 2022, Lifetime Africa and Lifetime Play are closing across Africa. This follows the closure of Lifetime in Great Britain, Ireland and Malta and will coincide with the shutdown of the channel in Poland.

“Lifetime Africa has entertained audiences with international hit shows like the Little Women franchise, Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, Surviving R Kelly and Lifetime original movies.

“We are proud to have brought you local shows such as Married at First Sight, Love at Second Swipe and Four Weddings South Africa and to have worked with local celebrities like AKA and Pabi Moloi. We thank you, our loyal viewers, for your invaluable support over the years.”

Lifetime Africa, which airs on channel 131 on the MultiChoice-owned DStv platform, was launched by A+E Networks UK in 2014 in South Africa and across other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

A+E Networks’ African feed for its History channel is still available on DStv, and Crime+Investigation Play will remain active in the region, added the company. The news was announced by Nazarene Khan, regional manager of A+E Networks Africa.

MultiChoice preps new Ghanaian channel

African pay TV company MultiChoice is set to debut a new Ghanaian channel called Akwaaba Magic Abusua.

Kennedy Dankyi-Appah

The 24-hour general entertainment channel is intended to be suitable for family viewing and will showcase a mix of authentic content for the Ghanaian market, ranging from drama, telenovelas and comedy to music, movies and reality shows, according to MultiChoice.

Subscribers to MultiChoice’s DStv and GOtv will be able to watch Ghanaian titles such as weekly telenovela Dede, dramas To Have & To Hold and Inside Out (adapted from South African series The Housekeepers), and reality show Sankofa.

International titles such as Gomora are also in the mix, dubbed into local languages. Akwaaba Magic Abusua will launch on May 2 at 16.00 and will air on DStv channel 149 and GOtv channel 108.

Kennedy Dankyi-Appah, channel head for Akwaaba Magic Abusua, said: “We are proud of the role we are currently playing in the TV and entertainment sector in Ghana and will continuously study sociographic and economic factors that influence consumption in a competitive market and adjust ourselves accordingly to ensure we are providing relevant and topical content at great value.”

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M-Net lines up South African drama

Desert Rose is directed by Cindy Lee

South African pay TV channel M-Net, part of MultiChoice Group, will premiere its latest African drama series in early June.

Eight-part series Desert Rose is filled with black comedy, suspense, crime and romance, according to the network, and is set on a remote farm in the Northern Cape.

Desert Rose is produced by Quizzical Pictures, directed by Cindy Lee and written by award-winning screenwriter and showrunner Rohan Dickson. It will premiere on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on June 2 at 20.30 and will also be available on demand.

Desert Rose tells the story of a disenfranchised and forgotten desert town through the eyes of one family. When the young son of an absent father refuses a request from the family’s benefactor, it sets off a series of escalating events as the family is forced to confront the mayhem that comes their way.

The cast includes Neil Sandilands, Amalia Uys, Kai Luke Brümmer, Christia Visser, Tinarie van Wyk, Daniah de Villiers, Brandon Daniels, Danny Ross, Roeline Daneel and Melt Sieberhagen.

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YFE’s Fix&Foxi lands on Moreplex TV

German company Your Family Entertainment (YFE) and Lagos-based direct-to-home (DTH) pay TV platform Moreplex TV have partnered to make international kids’ channel Fix&Foxi available in English on Moreplex across sub-Saharan Africa.

John Okorocha

Moreplex subscribers will be able to watch the Fix&Foxi channel, which offers entertaining and educational content suitable for children of all ages and their families, as well as Kartoon Genius!, the new two-hour branded programming block of exclusive and first-run animated content on the channel.

John Okorocha, CEO of Moreplex TV, said: “Moreplex TV is excited to have Fix&Foxi on our platform. We are sure that Fix&Foxi’s rich variety of kids-safe entertaining and educational programmes will complement and complete Moreplex TV.”

Armin Schnell, executive VP at YFE, added: “We are very excited to start our cooperation with Moreplex TV and to make Fix&Foxi available in even more African territories. I am certain the customers of Moreplex TV will enjoy the high-quality and entertaining content we offer on our channel.”

Moreplex TV is owned by Moreplex Television and licensed by Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission. It provides channels that are unique to Africans but also have an international appeal. It offers free-to-air, free-to-view and pay TV services across DTH, DTT, OTT and VoD platforms, and is available in 10 countries, with some 100,000 subscribers.

The news comes soon after the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) acquired the first two seasons of teen sci-fi drama series The Tribe, which made its debut in 1999, from YFE at the end of last month.

The series follows a group of young adults as they struggle to survive in a world where all the adults have been killed by a mysterious virus. Filmed in New Zealand, the show originally aired on Channel 5 in the UK between 1999 and 2003, and was produced by Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group.

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Wives on Strike 3 begins production

The third instalment of Wives on Strike is subtitled The Uprising

Production has begun on the third instalment of Wives on Strike, a socio-political comedy movie franchise produced and directed by Nigerian filmmaker Omoni Oboli.

The first part premiered in 2016. It followed a group of market women who denied their husbands sex in a bid to stir them into standing up for a young girl who had been compelled by her father to marry a man against her will.

In the second part, Wives on Strike: The Revolution, a woman is beaten to death by her husband and her friends gather to take a stand against injustice. The premiere date for the third instalment, Wives on Strike: The Uprising, has yet to be announced.

The franchise stars actors including Uche Jombo, Chioma Ak-potha, Ufuoma McDermott, Hilda Dokubo and Bukunmi Adeaga-Ilori.

“I love being behind the camera as a director. My finest moments. I love directing actors and I love creating with my crew,” said Oboli on Instagram.

“I love my crew on Wives on Strike: The Uprising. Every time I’m on set, I always wish I could build an estate and just have all of them live there with their families and we can just be one big happy family and just be working. I can’t promise that but the one thing I can promise is Wives on Strike: The Uprising will have you at the edge of your seat! You can take that to the bank! My hottest project yet! Wives on Strike 3 will shock you pleasantly.”

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My Kitchen Rules SA seeks fresh cooks

David Higgs (left) and J’Something

The South African version of Australian cooking competition format My Kitchen Rules is coming back for season four, which will premiere in September.

Broadcaster M-Net is on the lookout for the most talented home-cooking pairs to compete in the new season.

Those who make the cut will engage in an Instant Restaurant round where they host their competitors and two celebrity judges with a themed three-course dinner. Those who move on to the subsequent Challenge Round will go up against each other in various cooking challenges.

They will be judged by chef David Higgs and award-winning artist, cook, guitarist and vocalist J’Something, with the winners will receiving R1million (US$68,000).

J’Something said: “My Kitchen Rules South Africa gets better with each season because the calibre of home cooks also gets better and better. This past season, we saw that the pandemic and lockdowns really resulted in many people killing it in the kitchen, and we know that we can expect the same or possibly even better this time around.”

For a chance to show off your culinary skills and be one of the 10 teams, register here. Entries close on May 8.

My Kitchen Rules is an Australian competitive cooking gameshow that has broadcast on the Seven Network since 2010, produced by Seven Productions and distributed internationally by Banijay Rights. The format has been adapted locally in New Zealand by TVNZ along with broadcasters in the UK, US, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Georgia, Lithuania, Serbia and Israel.

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TV5 Monde eyes African animated series

French broadcaster TV5 Monde is looking to pre-buy more animated series from Africa as the continent’s animation industry continues to grow.

Denise Epote

Global players such as Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube are investing in animation from Africa, while local studios are developing more of their own IP.

This has not gone unnoticed at TV5 Monde, which seeks to represent French-speaking populations around the world and operates children’s channel TiVi5 Monde, which already features some original productions from Africa.

The broadcaster is now keen to step this up as part of its mission to teach French to young children through educational but entertaining programming.

Denise Epote, the Cameroonian journalist who became director of marketing, distribution and commercialisation at TV5 Monde earlier this year, told C21 that programming from North African countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia is of particular interest.

Epote added that TiVi5 Monde offers an alternative to Arabic children’s channels in parts of Africa for French-speaking families.

The broadcaster’s streaming platform, TV5 Monde Plus, launched in the French-speaking African market in 2020, offering thousands of hours of content from shareholders France Télévisions, RTS, RTB and Télé Quebec.

Animated series TV5 Monde has recently pre-bought include preschool show Pompon Little Bear (39×7′), based on picture books by French author and illustrator Benjamin Chaud.

The series, commissioned by France Télévisions, is produced by French animation company Supamonks Studio and distributed by Dandelooo. It follows a mischievous, cheerful and playful bear who brings enjoyment to his best friend and his parents thanks to his imagination and creativity.

TV5 Monde executives including Epote, TV5 Monde CEO Yves Bigot and TV5 Monde USA USA CEO Patrice Courtaban were in Cannes last week for MipTV as TiVi5 Monde celebrated 10 years on air in the US.

Late last year, the principality of Monaco joined TV5 Monde as its sixth donor government alongside Canada, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, France, Quebec and Switzerland.

This meant that the newly created Monegasque public broadcaster, Monte Carlo Riviera, became a shareholder of TV5 Monde and has a seat on its board of directors.

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VIS links with SA actor Thuso Mbedu

VIS Social Impact, the cause-driven production division of Paramount’s international studio VIS, has signed a first-look deal with South African actor Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad).

Thuso Mbedu

The pact is the studio’s inaugural first-look deal and will see Mbedu create, develop and produce exclusive scripted and documentary programming focused on equity, climate and health for streamer Paramount+ outside the US.

Mbedu is set to play the lead in Sony’s The Woman King opposite Viola Davis later this year and recently starred as Cora in Barry Jenkins’ Prime Video series The Underground Railroad.

VIS Social Impact launched in October 2021 as part of a global initiative from Paramount that aims to counteract racism, bias, stereotypes and hate on- and off-screen, partly by systemically transforming the creative supply chain.

VIS was set up in 2018 and produces content for Paramount brands and platforms, including Paramount+, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Channel 5, Network 10, Telefe and Chilevisión, as well as for third parties.

In addition to VIS Social Impact, the studio includes Ananey and Porta Dos Fundos and covers all genres, from kids, young adult, live action and animation to soap operas, dramas, shortform and longform comedy formats and feature films.

Georgia Arnold, head of VIS Social Impact and senior VP of international social responsibility at Paramount, said the studio was developing a roster of global talent to create premium programming for Paramount+.

“Having been privileged to work with Thuso on MTV Shuga: Down South, I’ve seen her powerful creative talent first-hand. I’m in no doubt her skill and expertise will help our studio develop groundbreaking, social impact-driven content with worldwide appeal,” added Arnold.

Mbedu said: “I am excited about this first-look deal because of what it means for African creators and artists. As Africans ,we have so many unique and diverse cultures, histories and experiences that the world needs to see and hear about. And as an African woman, to get an opportunity to tell stories that will uplift, empower and shape new ways of thinking and seeing the world is absolutely amazing.”

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South Africa’s Good Life heads to US

South African movie Good Life is set to premiere via several outlets in the US tomorrow, after winning prizes at the Berlin and Toronto independent film festivals.

Erica Wessels stars in Good Life

Good Life will be available on Apple’s iTunes Store, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Xfinity/Comcast, Spectrum, YouTube Movies, DirecTV, Verizon and Hoopla Digital, among others.

The US deals for the movie, set in Cape Town and Greece, come from a partnership between LA-based distributors Angel Oak Films and Level 33 Entertainment. The film is produced by Rodini Films and Inverse Films.

Good Life follows the story of a 35-year-old woman called Olive, played by Erica Wessels, who flees Cape Town for Greece to try to mend her broken heart but is faced with hostility from the local villagers. She is then befriended by a seven-year-old Albanian refugee who teaches her how to live the good life.

It was written and directed by Bonnie Rodini and also stars Caleb Payne, Robyn Scott, Leon Clingman, Marco Mintaka and Sven Ruygrok.

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All-female newsroom opens in Somalia

An all-female media house funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched in Somalia.

Nasrin Mohamed Ibraham

The project is named Bilan – which means ‘bright’ and ‘clear’ – and is aimed at providing a space where female media professionals can work with real decision-making authority and be free from harassment.

The media house will be managed entirely by women with full editorial independence and will produce stories for TV, radio and online media.

Nasrin Mohamed Ibraham, Bilan’s chief editor, said: “For too long, Somali women journalists have been treated as second-class citizens and Somali news has ignored the stories and voices of half the population. Now we are in charge of the boardroom and the narrative. Some people might not like the fact that I play football and lead a media team. But nobody will ever change my mind.”

Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, Bilan’s deputy editor, added: “As a women-only media house, we are going to be able to bring taboo subjects into the open. Our sisters, mothers and grandmothers will talk to us about issues they never dare speak about with men.”

Jocelyn Mason, UNDP’s resident representative in Mogadishu, said: “We hope this will be a game-changer for the Somali media scene, opening up new opportunities for women journalists and shining a light on new subjects that have been ignored, particularly those that are important for women.”

There will be a long-term programme of training and mentoring for Somali women journalists, as well as an offer of six-month internship opportunities for the best final-year female journalism students at two universities in Mogadishu.

The Bilan project will be housed inside the Mogadishu offices of Somalia’s Dalsan Media Group, with content distributed through Dalsan’s existing platforms and also pitched to international outlets worldwide.

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SA’s Trace Studios partners Media Ranch

In The Ultimate Braai Master, participants catch and cook their own food

Recently formed Trace Studios in South Africa has formed a global distribution partnership with Montreal-based format production and distribution company Media Ranch.

Trace Studios was formed earlier this year following Trace’s acquisition of Cape Town-based Okuhle Media Studios, which was merged with Trace’s content production and distribution operations.

Media Ranch will now distribute Trace Studio’s formats, which include South African reality shows 2 Weddings & a Superstar and The Ultimate Braai Master. Its paper formats include the reality series Any Objections? and Trendsetters.

The deal was brokered by Barbara Bellini, Trace’s senior international consultant. It follows similar agreements between Media Ranch and companies such as DR in Denmark and FormatEast in South Korea.

Trace was created in France in 2003 and describes itself as an Afro-urban platform for youth entertainment, with a portfolio that includes 26 TV channels and a streaming platform.

Sivan Pillay, the former Endemol Shine Africa boss who became CEO of Trace Studios in January, said: “We look forward to a long-term mutually beneficial relationship where we can break new ground and continue in our pursuit to create more opportunities for African based IP.”

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Omar Sy to star in Shadow Force

French-Senegalese actor Omar Sy (Lupin) is set to co-star in Lionsgate action-thriller film Shadow Force.

Omar Sy

Shadow Force follows an estranged couple with a bounty on their heads who must go on the run with their son to avoid their former employer, a shadow ops unit that has been sent to kill them.

The thriller will be directed by Joe Carnahan (Copshop, The Grey) and executive produced by Kathy Atkinson, Danielle Reardon and Jennifer Wiley-Stockton. US actor Kerry Washington (Scandal) will co-star with Sy.

Announcing the news on his Instagram page, Sy said: “Kerry Washington and Joe Carnahan, thumbs up.”

The release date for Shadow Force has yet to be announced. Sy is best known as the star of  hit Netflix series Lupin, which debuted last year and has been renewed for a third part. He has also partnered with the streaming giant to develop original feature films.

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Greoh’s Brotherhood set for cinemas

Brotherhood is being directed by Loukman Ali

Brotherhood, an action-thriller movie from Nigerian film and TV production company Greoh Studios, is set to be released in cinemas on July 8.

In the film, the bonds of brotherhood are put to the ultimate test as a man, played by Tobi Bakre, and his brother (Folarin Falana) find themselves on different sides of the divide. Loukman Ali is the director.

The cast also includes Basket Mouth, Toni Tones, OC Ukeje, Omawunmi, Dorathy Bachor, Mr Macaroni, Mercy Aigbe, Boma, Zubby Michael, Sam Dede, Ronke Oshodi-Oke, Jidekene Achufusi, Diane Russet, Seyi Awolowo and Deyemi Okanlawon.

Jade Osiberu said on Instagram: “Super excited to announce the cast and director for our first 2022 release. Loukman Ali is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, so I’m so happy that he’s heading the team for the Brotherhood movie.

“The cast for this film.. I’m just so excited we could get everyone. We’ve also brought together a Pan-African crew (Uganda, Kenya, SA and Nigeria) to deliver an action-packed film like nothing you’ve ever seen from Nollywood.”

Brotherhood is distributed by Genesis Cinemas.

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EbonyLife, Netflix set Blood Sisters launch

Blood Sisters is written by Craig Freimond and Zelipa Zulu

Thriller miniseries Blood Sisters, from Nigerian production company EbonyLife Studios and Netflix, will debut exclusively on the streamer on May 5.

The show is part of the multi-title partnership agreed between Netflix and EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu in 2020. It is written by Craig Freimond and Zelipa Zulu, with Abudu executive producing.

The four-part crime thriller is set against the bustling backdrop of Lagos and will be available on Netflix worldwide.

Directed by Biyi Bandele and Kenneth Gyang, Blood Sisters tells the story of two friends, played by Ini Dima-Okojie and Nancy Isime. Deyemi Okanlawon also stars in the show, which is described as “a heart-stopping series of catastrophic events marked by murder, love, betrayal and the test of friendship.”

The series explores themes including intra-family relationships, physical and substance abuse, love, commitment and relationships, as well as friendships tested by challenging circumstances.

Abudu said: “Blood Sisters is a crime thriller, which is a new genre for us, so the prospect was challenging but very exciting. It was also a particularly unique and intense experience as we shot during the pandemic, but we remained committed to the vision we share with Netflix – to tell authentic and exciting African stories with superb production values.”

As well as film heavyweights Dima-Okojie and Isime, the cast includes Ramsey Nouah, Kate Henshaw, Uche Jombo, Segun Arinze, Joke Silva, Deyemi Okanlawon, plus fan favourites Ibrahim Suleiman, Toke Makinwa and Okey Uzoeshi.

Films already released under the partnership include critically acclaimed movie Òlòturé, while the adaptation of Wole Soyinka play Death & the King’s Horseman is set to follow.

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