Donkerbos debuts on Showmax
South African crime drama Donkerbos, an eight-part trilingual drama series set in Limpopo, has launched on African VoD service Showmax.
The series, which uses Afrikaans, English and Venda, was written and directed by Nico Scheepers (Nerens, Noord Kaap) and produced by Nagvlug (Skemerdans, Barakat).
The story follows what happens after the bodies of six children are found in the backwater forests of Donkerbos and an ostracised detective wrestles with her dark past, her family and a distrustful community to catch the killer.
The drama stars Erica Wessels in the lead role, alongside Fleur du Cap winner Sanda Shandu, Thoko Ntshinga, Jacques Bessenger (Fynskrif, Warrior), Stian Bam (The Story of Racheltjie de Beer), Aphiwe Sithole (Poppie Nongena), Carel Nel (Gaia) and Rolanda Marais (Trackers).
Regarding the casting of Wessels, Scheepers said: “We had six incredible options but everyone else approached the character with anger. Erica brings empathy. She elevated the character so much; I couldn’t fathom the depth she brought.
“In South Africa, the genre cuts uncomfortably close to the bone. The statistics in South Africa are worse than anything I could write. Perhaps this is partly why South African crime series are increasingly generating international buzz, with Reyka nominated for an International Emmy earlier this year after selling into 147 territories.
“Limpopo is under-represented on TV in South Africa. I was tired of coastal and Karoo stories in Afrikaans series, and I was tired of only hearing Zulu and Xhosa in everything else.”
Scheepers sees Donkerbos as a story about how almost everyone fails the most vulnerable members of society – children – but there is hope in the men and women who keep fighting, despite the odds.
New episodes of Donkerbos will air on MultiChoice-owned streamer Showmax every Tuesday until January 17.