Global streaming platform Netflix has picked up 2018 documentary Bigger Than Africa and will debut the film on its platform today.
Bigger Than Africa is a documentary that breaks down the historical influence of Yoruba culture and how it has transcended continents and connected the black diaspora. It highlights the journey of Africans through the lens of Yoruba culture.
Released in 2018, it was directed by award-winning Nigerian film director Toyin Ibrahim Adekeye through his Los Angeles-based production company Motherland Productions.
Bigger Than Africa was shot in six countries with research and interviews from around the world. It takes you on a journey through Brazil, the US, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago and back to where it all began, in West Africa.
“When the slave ships docked in North America, Brazil and the Caribbean, hundreds of cultures, traditions and religions landed with the Africans on board. One transcended slavery beyond imagination and remains alive till this day in the New World: the Yoruba culture. Bigger Than Africa follows these Africans from the point of no return in West Africa to their final destinations,” said Adekeye.
Bigger Than Africa was nominated for the African Movie Academy Award in 2018 and is distributed by KAP Film.
Global streaming platform Netflix and African filmmaking organisation Realness Institute have revealed the 12 participants who have been selected for the 2022 Episodic Lab (EPL) and Development Executive Traineeship (DET) programmes.
The six candidates and their projects chosen for EPL are Hussein Kurji with Bushcamp (Kenya), Khanyo Mjamba with Byline (South Africa), Mlilo Mpondo with Bayeti-Visitors (South Africa), Neo Sibiya with Ukushona Kwelanga/The Setting of the Sun (South Africa), Sandra Madu with From Lagos With Love (Nigeria) and Voline Ogutu with Dilemma (Kenya).
The candidates for DET are Babalwa Baartman (South Africa), Khosie Dali (South Africa), Mona Ombogo (Kenya), Neiloe Whitehead (South Africa), Omotunde Akiode (Nigeria) and Pedro Duarte Soulé (Cabo Verde).
Each participant will receive a monthly stipend of US$2,000 during the incubation period to cover living expenses as they focus on their concept and professional development.
They will spend three months in a virtual lab where they will work on developing their original story ideas, in any genre, while being mentored by Realness Institute creative producers Elias Ribeiro and Mehret Mandefro, as well as story consultants Selina Ukwuoma and Thandeka Zwana.
They will also have the opportunity to pitch their incubated stories to Netflix executives.
According to the filmmaking organisation, the selected participants will gain a deeper understanding of the story development process, working alongside creative producers and story experts.
DET participants will work in teams to support the development and crafting of the Episodic Lab participants’ respective projects and help translate their concepts into pitch decks.
Realness Institute is a non-profit organisation that aims to empower Africans to tell their stories from an unapologetically African point of view.
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.
Global streaming platform Netflix has unveiled a podcast titled Never Late: African Time, continuing its efforts to grow its content proposition on the African continent.
The new podcast will discuss everything African and celebrate the continent as the next frontier.
It will be hosted by Andy Maqondwana and Zweli Mbhele and feature Nollywood and South African stars including Ini Dima-Okojie, Nancy Isime, Sharon Ooja, Kemi Adetiba, Candice Modiselle, Nandi Nyembe and Israel Matseke-Zulu.
“Africa, it’s our time. Introducing the first Netflix Africa podcast. Never Late: African Time talking all things African stories, celebrating our content and how our continent is the next frontier. We’ve got stories, we’ve got laughs and a whole lot of quotable moments,” the streaming platform said on Instagram.
The podcast will premiere on May 4 and will be available on the AfricaOnNetflix official YouTube page, as well as Spotify and Apple. Viewers can tune in to new episodes every Wednesday, with the podcast available in video and audio formats.
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.
Global streaming service Netflix has opened applications to the Creative Equity Scholarship Fund for film and TV creatives in East Africa.
The move is being undertaken in partnership with East African investment company Heva Fund and is part of Netflix’s efforts to invest in Africa’s creative industries and for more diverse and new voices to tell African stories.
The scholarship fund will aid East African creatives to access quality tertiary education in film and TV-focused disciplines at sought-after academic programmes and institutions for the 2022 academic year.
Successful applicants will receive full scholarships to support their formal qualification and training including costs for tuition, accommodation, study materials and living expenses at institutions to which beneficiaries have gained admission to pursue a course of study in the TV and film disciplines.
Those eligible to apply are students from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania who are already enrolled in the Africa Digital Media Institute, Kenya Film School, KCA University, Kenyatta University and United States International University Africa.
The deadline for application is 22 April. To apply, click here.
The Man of God, a religious movie directed by Bolanle Austen Peters, will become available on Netflix on April 16.
Produced by Lagos-based BAP Productions, the film is about lies, betrayal and the quest for power. It follows the story of a man who forsakes his harsh religious upbringing to live his own life, but his soul remains caught between the world and the faith he left behind.
The Man of God stars Aka Nnani, Osas Ighodaro, Atlanta Bridget Johnson, Jude Chukwuka, Binta Ayo Mogaji and Dorcas Shola Fapson, among others.
“Finally! My own trailer, made by Netflix for Man of God! Exhaling… Please post and tag all your friends and Naija on Netflix as we start this movement. Is it the voice of God or is it the voice of Man? Who will redeem the unredeemable?” said Austen Peters on Instagram.
British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo and American star Will Smith are producing a Netflix film based on British-Nigerian author Tọlá Okogwu’s novel Onyeka & the Academy of the Sun.
The superhero story, described as Black Panther meets Percy Jackson, will be adapted by Oyelowo (Les Misérables) and Smith (King Richard)’s respective production companies Yoruba Saxon and Westbrook Studios.
It’s about a British-Nigerian girl who learns that her hair has psychokinetic powers. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where children with superpowers are trained. Onyeka and her new friends at the academy must soon put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies.
The film adaptation will be written by Ola Shokunbi and executive produced by Okogwu, Westbrook Studios’ Heather Washington and Yoruba Saxon’s Jessica Oyelowo.
Okogwu said on Instagram: “From the moment I finished writing Onyeka & the Academy of the Sun, I knew it would make an epic film. So it is with great joy I get to say that it is being adapted for film by Netflix.”
The debut date on Netflix is yet to be announced.
Smith launched Westbrook Studios in 2019, while Oyelowo co-founded Yoruba Saxon in 2014.
Netflix reality series Young, Famous & African, created and executive produced by British-Ghanaian media entrepreneur Peace Hyde, will make its debut on March 18.
The series features a cast from Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania, namely Annie Macaulay Idibia, Khanyi Mbau, Diamond Platnumz, Andile Ncube, Naked DJ and Swanky Jerry. Together they will work and play, flirt and feud in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Netflix said of the show: “This reality series follows a group of famed, affluent young media stars in Johannesburg as they build careers, look for love and rekindle old flames.”
“Are you ready? This has been a long journey but it’s time to turn all the way up. I’m so proud of this project. There was a truly amazing group of humans that came together to make this dream an incredible reality and it’s finally ready. Young Famous & African loading. The African all-stars arrive March 18, 2022 on Netflix globally! The first ever unscripted African original, you can’t miss this,” Hyde said on Instagram.
Global streaming platform Netflix and the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have shortlisted 21 filmmakers who will take part in a short film competition themed African Folktales, Reimagined.
The 21 African filmmakers from 13 countries were selected following an evaluation process by a wide range of industry professionals from across the continent.
They are Nosa Igbinedion, Tongryang Pantu, Anita Abada and Akorede Azeez from Nigeria; Ebot Tanyi and Anne Catherine Tchokonté from Cameroon; Loukman Ali from Uganda; Walt Mzengi from Tanzania; Venance Soro and Nader Fakhry from Ivory Coast; Noni Ireri, Oprah Oyugi and Voline Ogutu from Kenya; Volana Razafimanantsoa from Madagascar; Mohamed Echkouna from Mauritania; Mphonyana Mokokwe from Botswana; Samuel Kanyama from Zambia; Machérie Ekwa-Bahango from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ndiyathemba Modibedi and Gcobisa Yako from South Africa; and Katya Aragão from São Tomé and Príncipe.
They will pitch their stories to a judging panel featuring the following mentors: Nigeria’s Femi Odugbemi, South Africa’s Bongiwe Selane, Leila Afua Djansi from Ghana, David Tosh Gitonga from Kenya, and Jean Luc Herbulot from the Republic of Congo. Representatives from Netflix and UNESCO will also be on the panel.
The 21 filmmakers will then be whittled down to a final six who will receive a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films under the guidance of Netflix and industry mentors to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. They will also receive US$25,000.
Ernesto Ottone Ramírez, UNESCO assistant director-general for culture, said: “Congratulations to those who have been shortlisted! They should all be proud of the quality of their work. This competition showcases the extraordinary cultural richness that Africa has to offer that we want to share with people all over the world, as Africa is a priority for UNESCO.”
Ben Amadasun, Netflix director of content in Africa, added: “We also want to thank our panel of independent industry professionals who undertook the mammoth task to read over 2,080 applications until they found 21 strong submissions.
“The response from all the aspiring filmmakers who took time to submit their application also proves that there’s a wealth of storytelling potential and talent in Africa, and we at Netflix are excited to be part of this journey for more talented new voices to share their stories with the world.”
Both Netflix and UNESCO said they strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories and bringing them to the world. This competition is a step towards enabling these storytellers to showcase their content to a global audience, they added.
The KAP Film & Television Academy, owned by Nigerian filmmaker and producer Kunle Afolayan, has partnered with Netflix and the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) to host post-production workshops in Nigeria.
The talent-development initiative is aimed at nurturing professionals and upskilling the existing talent pool to master the new forms of post-production techniques, including picture editing.
The 10-week workshop will cover topics such as picture cropping, editing and sound post-production, led by world-renowned editors and SCA faculty members Douglas Blush, Stephen Flick and Richard Burton.
Allison Triegaardt, manager for Africa at Netflix’s Grow Creative initiative, said: “Africa is a hugely important region for Netflix and as we grow the number of productions, it’s important for African stories to be able to meet the growing demand for quality storytelling.
“Our Grow Creative partnerships like the one with USC and KAP in Nigeria will help bridge the skills gap, upskill experienced crew and improve diversity head-on. This will also ensure an even stronger diversity of voices, stories and points of view for our global audience.”
Afolayan added: “It has been amazing working with the Netflix team to produce dynamic Nigerian films, and it will only get better now that we are partnering with Netflix and USC to train the newest crop of film post-production experts. These editors and sound designers will go on to craft Nigerian stories on a world-class level.”
Rachel Gandin Mark, director of international programmes for the SCA, said: “For over 90 years, the USC School of Cinematic Arts has trained Hollywood’s top picture and sound editors. Now, thanks to this exciting partnership with Netflix and Kunle Afolayan’s KAP Studios in Lagos, our world-class and award-winning faculty, Douglas Blush, Stephen Flick and Richard Burton will bring their expertise in helping to train the next generation of Nigerian cinematic storytellers.”
Applications are open from now until January 31. The advanced editing workshop commences in March, while the Advanced Sound Post-Production Workshop begins in May.
Global streaming service Netflix has lined up two more Nollywood films this festive season.
A Naija Christmas, which will debut on December 16, is the story of three brothers who scramble to find wives they can bring home by Christmas. Meanwhile, their mom sets out to host the most beautiful Christmas celebration ever. The movie stars Rachel Oniga, Kunle Remi and Segilola Ogidan.
Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke, which is available from January 1, is the sequel to 2018 Nollywood comedy Chief Daddy, made by Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Films.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, it stars Funke Akindele-Bello, Shaffy Bello, Kate Henshaw, Joke Silva, Rachael Oniga, Ini Edo, Patience Ozokwo, Nkem Owoh, Beverly Osu and Beverly Naya.
Abudu took to Instagram to announce the news, saying: “Come January 1, 2022, the Beecrofts are returning with more family drama, more secrets, more laughs and even more fun and entertainment.”
Global streamer Netflix will debut South Africa-produced animated movie Seal Team on December 31.
Produced by South Africa-based animation studio Triggerfish, Seal Team follows a group of seals who band together to take on the gang of sharks that have been terrorising their neighbourhood. However, the so-called Seal Team are not prepared for the mission on which they’re about to embark, and chaos ensues.
The movie is directed by Greig Cameron, and co-directed by Kane Croudace. The voice cast includes South African actors Sharlto Copley (District 9) and John Kani (Black Panther), plus Patrick Warburton, JK Simmons, Kristen Schaal and Dolph Lundgren.
“Just announced our third feature film Seal Team will be released on Netflix in most countries,” said Triggerfish on Instagram. “Well done to the fantastic crew and cast who worked on this crazy action-adventure film. Go Seal Team.”
Seal Team’s availability on Netflix will vary from region to region. Other projects coming to Netflix from Triggerfish include new Shondaland animated series Mama K’s Team 4.
Netflix has boarded the second season of the South African version of gameshow Family Feud and will make the format available across 44 new countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Family Feud South Africa was first commissioned by free-to-air channel eTV and was exclusively aired in South Africa. The second season will continue to run on eTV in addition to the global SVoD platform.
Distributed internationally by Fremantle, the format pits families against each other as they compete to guess the most popular answers to survey questions in the hope of winning cash prizes.
The original US version of the format first aired on ABC in 1976 before switching to CBS in 1988 and then going into syndication from 1999.
The second season of South African comedy series How to Ruin Christmas is set to premiere on Netflix on December 10.
The first season debuted on Netflix last year. It follows the story of a free-spirited woman who begrudgingly joins her dysfunctional family for Christmas for the first time in years. She ruins her younger sister’s Christmas wedding, which would have united the Sello and Twala families, and spends the next six days frantically trying to get things back on track.
The series is produced by siblings Katleho and Rethabile Ramaphakela through their Johannesburg-based company Burnt Onion Productions. Its stars include Busi Lurayi, Thando Thabethe, Yonda Thomas and Clementine Mosimane.
“The Sellos and Twalas are back, which means more drama, more laughter and more succulent food. How to Ruin Christmas premieres 10 December only on Netflix,” said the streamer.
Nigeria’s EbonyLife has begun production on Death & The King’s Horseman, a Netflix film that comes under EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu’s deal to develop original titles for the US-based streamer.
The feature is an adaptation of a play by Professor Wole Soyinka, which is based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during the colonial era when the horseman of a Yoruba king was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities.
According to Abudu, one of the major challenges of the production has been finding locations that fit the 1940s setting. So far, scenes have been shot at the Muson Centre in Lagos and at the Lagos Colonial Secretariat.
“We are so excited to be making Death & The King’s Horseman,” Abudu said. “It’s been a lot of work bringing this particular project to life because it is a period piece set in Nigeria in the 1940s. I will be forever grateful to Professor Wole Soyinka for giving me the rights to this most important and treasured piece of literature. I cannot wait for the world to see this feature film – another Netflix exclusive.”
Nigerian-American actor Uzo Aduba has been revealed as the host of Netflix Book Club, a forthcoming series about books the streamer has adapted for the small screen.
Available via the Still Watching Netflix YouTube channel and the Netflix US Facebook channel, the show will introduce viewers to books that they will soon be able to watch as films and series on the streamer, as well as those that have been adapted for Netflix in the past.
It will begin with the stars and storytellers behind the latest book-to-screen adaptations sitting down for candid conversations while delving into the depths of how beloved characters, themes and stories are brought to life on the page and on screen.
Recent Netflix book adaptations that will be discussed include Bridgerton, The Queen’s Gambit, Orange is the New Black (which starred Aduba) and The Maid.
Forthcoming book adaptations being spotlighted include Nella Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance-era novel Passing, which has been adapted as a film directed by Rebecca Hall and will be released on Netflix next month.
Passing follows the story of two black women who can pass as white and choose to live on opposite sides of the coluor line in 1929 New York. Aduba will sit down with Hall and stars Ruth Negga and André Holland to discuss the adaptation on November 16.
Netflix chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John said: “From Bridgerton, To All the Boys and Sweet Magnolias to Queen’s Gambit, Unorthodox, Virgin River and, of course, Orange is the New Black, Netflix loves bringing books to life on screen and creating conversation with passionate readers and fans. We’re thrilled that the incredible Uzo Aduba will be our host to discuss favourite books and what goes into writing, developing, casting and creating our beloved series and films.”
Aduba added: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked friends, ‘But have you read the book?’ so I’m excited to host Netflix Book Club and bring together loyal book fans, TV and movie obsessives and the creators behind their favourite stories. I can’t wait to dive deep into the creative process and what it takes to bring a book to life.”
Global streaming service Netflix and UNESCO have collaborated to launch a groundbreaking short-film competition themed African Folktales, Reimagined across sub-Saharan Africa.
The aim is to discover new voices, give emerging filmmakers in sub-Saharan Africa visibility on a global scale and help them find the right resources to enable them to fully unleash their talents and develop their creative careers.
The competition will be administered by consulting firm Dalberg and, according to Netflix, the six winners will be trained and mentored by industry professionals. They will be provided with a US$75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an Anthology of African folktales and they will also receive US$25,000.
Emerging filmmakers across sub-Saharan Africa can apply here. For the first round, applicants will be required to submit a synopsis of their concept in no more than 500 words as well as links to a recent CV and a portfolio or evidence of any past audiovisual work they have produced.
UNESCO and Netflix said they strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories and bringing them to the world, and that this partnership will help create sustainable employment and encourage economic growth, thereby contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It will also help reduce inequalities by facilitating access to global markets and guaranteeing dignified working conditions.
Ben Amadasun, director of content in Africa for Netflix, added: “Africa has a rich storytelling heritage and a wealth of folktales that have been passed down for generations. When you marry these very local stories with Africa’s emerging talent, there’s no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other.”
Audrey Azoulay, director-general at UNESCO, said: “The film sector must ensure that the creativity of Africa is promoted by supporting young talents and making sure that African filmmakers contribute to the international film industry.”
“This competition puts a global spotlight on the emerging, homegrown talents of Africa while honouring the storytelling tradition of the continent,” added Ernesto Ottone assistant director-general for culture at UNESCO.
“By infusing new energy into the folktales, these young filmmakers enable these stories to transcend time, space and culture – from their communities, through a digital platform, into the hearts of audiences around the world.”
The competition is open until 13.59 CET on November 14.
South African romantic drama film Happiness Ever After, a sequel to 2016’s Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, is set to debut on global streaming platform Netflix.
The film was produced in Johannesburg by Bongiwe Selane and directed by Thabang Moleya. It follows the glittering lifestyles of a trio of Joburg-based professional women as they grapple with issues of relationship stress, parenting and family tension.
It features returning cast members from the original, including Khanyi Mbau, Renate Stuurman and Richard Lukunku, as well as newcomers Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Yonda Thomas, Daniel Effiong and Loyiso MacDonald. The film also includes heavyweight South African stars Xolile Tshabalala and Nandi Nyembe.
Selane said: “I’m super-excited about Happiness Ever After, and being able to continue the uber-relatable story of sisterhood, friendship and love.
“Sequels are always difficult because the pressure is that much higher, but they also offer something different and exciting – and the opportunity to land the film on a global service like Netflix is its own reward. It is my sincere hope that the film resonates with audiences, and they fall back in love with their favourites and the new faces too.”
The release date of the movie has yet to be confirmed.