Tag Archives: Netflix

Netflix, Realness unveil writers’ lab

Global streaming service Netflix and African filmmaking organisation Realness Institute have selected 12 Africans with scripted projects who will take part in the three-month Netflix Episodic Lab (EPL) and Development Executive Traineeship (DET) programmes.

The move is aimed at producing more original local content from creative writers in Africa.

The six candidates chosen for the EPL are Ayoade Adeyanju with the series Agent 419 (Nigeria), Kehinde Joseph with Osupa (Nigeria), Andile Ngcizela with Drummies (South Africa), Dominique Jossie with Fafi (South Africa), Kudakwashe Maradzika with Bad Influencer (Zimbabwe/South Africa) and Mary Waireri with Sheitain (Kenya/UK).

At the end of the EPL, each writer will have an opportunity to pitch their incubated concept to Netflix to have their series further developed for production.

The six selected DET candidates include Ololade Okedare (Nigeria), Anneke Villet, Antionette Engel and Thandeka Zwane (both South Africa), Damaris Irungu Ochieng’ (Kenya) and Lara Sousa (Mozambique).

Announcing the aim of the traineeship on Instagram, the Institute said: “They will accompany the incubation of the six potential Netflix African original series. The purpose of this traineeship is to build a critical missing capacity in the local media ecosystems with the hope of expanding this expertise across the continent to help bolster the quality of work produced. This skill creates opportunities for professionals to work with national film bodies, film commissions, funders, story consultants and critics.”

The EPL will take place remotely until September 5, when selected participants will receive about US$2,000 monthly stipend so that they can focus entirely on their development.

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Netflix to launch next Kandasamys film

Trippin’ With the Kandasamys

Global streaming platform Netflix will launch the third instalment of South Africa’s popular Kandasamys comedy movie franchise on June 4.

Trippin’ With the Kandasamys follows Keeping Up With the Kandasamys and Kandasamys: The Wedding. Keeping Up With the Kandasamys debuted in 2017 and was the first South African Indian film to be screened widely in theatres in South Africa, while Kandasamys: The Wedding was released in 2018.

In Trippin’ With the Kandasamys, best friends-turned-in-laws Shanthi and Jennifer plan a couples’ getaway, but it comes with all kinds of surprises. The film is directed by Jayan Moodley and stars actors including Jailoshini Naidoo, Maeshni Naicker, Madhushan Singh, Mishgah Parthiephal.

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Netflix acquires One Lagos Night

Global streaming platform Netflix has acquired the exclusive rights to Ekene Som Mekwunye’s film One Lagos Night, which will be released on May 29.

Ekene Som Mekwunye

One Lagos Night tells the story of a desperate man who attempts to burgle the home of a wealthy woman but finds himself face-to-face with a crew of armed robbers who have the same idea. It stars Nollywood actors Ikponmwosa Gold, Frank Donga, Ali Nuhu, Eniola Badmus, Gbubemi Ejeye and Genoveva Umeh.

Producer and director Mekwunye revealed the news on Instagram, saying: “Happy to announce that Netflix has acquired the exclusive rights to my film One Lagos Night. We launch in a few days. Can’t wait for you to see this.”

This news comes soon after the movie was selected to be the closing film at Nollywood Week Film Festival, which was held in Paris earlier this month.

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Netflix to debut South African thriller

I Am All Girls is directed by Donovan Marsh

A South African thriller movie I Am All Girls is set to premiere on global streaming platform Netflix.

The film, about a sex-trafficking syndicate operating in South Africa, will arrive on Netflix on May 14.

Directed by Donovan Marsh, I Am All Girls is based on real events that unfolded in South Africa in the 1980s in the final days of the apartheid era.

The film is produced by South African production house Nthibah Pictures with producers Simon Swart, Wayne Fitzjohn, Jozua Malherbe and Lucia Mayer-Marais.

It stars Erica Wessels as a special crimes investigator who teams up with a police officer, played by Hlubi Mboya. Together, the two work to take down a human-trafficking ring that enjoys the support of some powerful people.

Marsh said: “I Am All Girls demonstrates Netflix’s commitment to telling meaningful African stories and reaching audiences across the globe on important issues, while supporting groundbreaking local entertainment.”

Swart added: “This distribution partnership with Netflix is kismet, as they share our goal of bringing unique, diverse South African voices to global audiences. Donovan and the creative team crafted something deeply moving and atmospheric, with a strong social message that will gain greater awareness and social impact through Netflix.”

As well as Wessels and Mboya, the cast includes Deon Lotz, Brandon Daniels, Mothusi Magano, Masasa Mbangeni and Nomvelo Makhanya.

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South Africa’s Octopus Teacher wins Bafta

Craig Foster’s feature doc My Octopus Teacher

South African documentary My Octopus Teacher from Netflix has won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Documentary.

The 1×85’ doc was directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed and captured the year filmmaker Craig Foster spent building a relationship with a wild female octopus in a South African kelp forest, dubbed the Great African Seaforest.

My Octopus Teacher focuses on time Foster spent observing and interacting with the octopus during daily dives made to rekindle his connection with the natural world.

Indian documentary filmmaker and environmental journalist Swati Thiyagarajan told NDTV that the intention was for the film to be a story of hope and of love.

“Through Craig’s personal story we wanted to show the healing power of nature and how humans are an intrinsic part of the natural world, not separate from it,” said Thiyagarajan.

My Octopus Teacher has also been nominated for an Oscar, but despite such acclaim, Thiyagarajan said: “The greatest gift this film has given us is our deepening connection to this wild, wonderful ecosystem on our doorstep, where even I have given over my fear to wonder and swim and dive every day in the Great African Seaforest.”

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Netflix lines up more Nigerian movies

Global streaming service Netflix has lined up a number of Nigerian titles to launch this month.

They include crime caper flick Ojukokoro (arriving on Netflix on April 9), street hustler documentary Awon Boyz (April 14), adventure drama Doctor Bello (April 16), action thriller Oloibiri (April 21), romantic drama This Lady Called Life (April 23) and survival flick Seven (April 30).

Ojukokoro follows the story of a cash-strapped manager in a money-laundering petrol station who decides to rob the petrol station that employs him. It is directed by Dare Olaitan, produced by Olufemi Ogunsanwo and stars Linda Ejiofor, Wale Ojo, Zainab Balogun, Oyetoro Hafiz and others.

Awon Boyz is a 38-minute documentary exec produced by Steve Babaeko. It provides a picture of life for people living on the streets and follows the story of eight ‘area boys’ in Lagos.

Doctor Bello is directed by Tony Abulu and tells the story of a cancer specialist who tries to save a seven-year-old boy. It stars Genevieve Nnaji, Rachael Oniga, Stephanie Okereke-Linus and Femi Brainard.

Oloibiri is an action thriller directed by Curtis Graham and looks at how oil companies and government agencies exploit newly discovered oil in the historic town of Oloibiri. Nollywood stars Olu Jacobs and Richard Mofe Damijo feature.

This Lady Called Life tells the story of an ambitious cook who aspires to become a chef despite the fact she is a young, struggling single mother. It stars Jemima Osunde, Bisola Aiyeola, Paul Utomi, Asaah Samuel and Tuke Morgan.

Lastly, Seven follows a rich and irresponsible man who has to survive seven days in Lagos neighbourhood Ajegunle or lose his inheritance. It stars Sadiq Daba, Richard Mofe Damijo, Bimbo Manuel and Daddy Showkey.

Netflix has stepped up its activities in Nigeria recently, not only licensing Nollywood and other locally produced movies but also commissioning original Nigerian films.

These include Òlòtūré from Ebonylife, Citation from Golden Effects Pictures and King of Boys II, the sequel to Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 crime thriller.

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Netflix, SA Tourism agree partnership

Global streaming platform Netflix and South African Tourism have partnered to explore opportunities to showcase South African stories to the world and attract tourists to the country.

Ben Amadasun

The companies plan to collaborate on projects through locally produced series that will be made available on Netflix.

The streamer entered SA in 2016 and has since invested in both original and licensed productions made locally.

South African content already released by Netflix includes Queen Sono, Blood & Water, How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding, Kings of Joburg, Seriously Single, Catching Feelings, Santana and Baby Mamas.

Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism, said: “As we continue to lure the world to our beautiful country in these trying times, we have to look at non-traditional tourism partnerships as a source of driving arrivals.

“Netflix reaches millions of eyeballs globally, and by working closely with Netflix, we are able to latch onto a massive opportunity to influence the audience to think more closely about South Africa and thus convincing them to visit our country.

“We have 11 global country offices and there will always be opportunities for our international offices in key source markets to latch onto opportunities to showcase South Africa through the title Netflix launch.”

Ben Amadasun, Netflix director of content in Africa, added: “This past year, when entertainment mattered more than ever, our 204 million members around the world connected with new worlds, and most importantly with each other, through stories from South Africa and across the globe.

“Storytelling is a powerful tool that can foster connection and understanding while creating greater affinity towards a culture or place. That’s a big responsibility and, at Netflix, we don’t take that lightly. It’s why we value this important collaboration with SA Tourism as it will help us create more opportunities to support local creatives as they showcase the beauty of South Africa through their stories delivered to millions of entertainment fans around the world on Netflix.”

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Netflix, TikTok launch SA creative project

Global streaming platform Netflix, video-sharing social networking service TikTok and South Africa’s National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) have teamed up to launch a project aimed at helping content creators and filmmakers.

Makhosazana Khanyile

Rising Voices is open to all black South African creators on TikTok, offering training and grants and providing the community with opportunities to make a career out of content creation.

Around 100 creatives will be trained to use the platform to create high-quality content. They will also undergo digital skills training in an intensive boot camp and learn personal branding, how to monetise their account and the importance of catering to a diverse audience.

TikTok content operations manager Boniswa Sidwaba told South Africa’s Independent Online: “South Africa is a market brimming with creative talent from black creators and we are committed to providing the best local support to help amplify the voices of this community. Through this initiative, we will empower these creators to thrive on TikTok and beyond, as we aim to provide them with career-building resources and programmes.”

NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile said: “We are excited to witness the launch of TikTok’s Rising Voices initiative in South Africa. Projects like this one provide black content creators with vast opportunities to further develop their digital skills while learning from some of the industry’s leading content experts.

“We look forward to seeing the incredible content and content creators that will emerge from this programme, and we are confident it will add tremendous value to the film and video industry in South Africa.”

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Netflix finds Happiness Ever After

Global streaming platform Netflix has lined up a South African drama titled Happiness Ever After as a sequel to Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, which debuted in 2016.

Directed by Thabang Moleya, the original film is based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s award-winning book of the same title, which follows three women looking for happiness while maintaining images of success and acceptability.

Moleya returns to helm Happiness Ever After, which will continue the story from five years ago while including sisterhood and friendship, as well as a new romantic story arc.

Production will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, while the film will debut on Netflix later this year. It is produced by Bongiwe Selane (Nomalanga & the Witch) and Ayanda Halimana is the screenwriter.

Cast member Khanyi Mbau said: “The sequel lives independently from the book but obviously with some of the old characters returning to bring more drama and more sizzle in the sequel.”

Another cast member, Renate Stuurman, added: “We wanted to take audiences somewhere new. The story picks up five years later from where we left our characters and it is on all of us (the cast, the producers, the crew) to take our audiences somewhere new.”

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Netflix backs $1.9m SA film deal

Global streaming platform Netflix has partnered with Johannesburg-based National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) to invest US$1.9m in the production of South African micro-budget feature films.

Ben Amadasun

The move is aimed at supporting the South African film industry’s recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as alleviate the pressure filmmakers face in raising additional funding and ensure job creation.

SA publication Business Tech noted that each partner will contribute R14m (US$950,000) towards the production of local films that will receive exclusive debuts on Netflix.

The partnership will entail the funding of six local films including four by emerging filmmakers with budgets capped at R4m and two feature films by established filmmakers capped at R6m.

Ben Amadasun, Netflix’s director of content in Africa, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult with the pandemic hitting so many industries around the world. The creative community that we are a part of has supported us through the good times so we want to help them continue to create the stories our members love. Now we’re excited to take this a step further with this joint fund with NFVF for above-the-line talent.”

NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile added: “The inclusion of digital platforms into our traditional processes can only profit the industry further. We hope that this is a start of a long and fruitful relationship.”

The submission portal for funding will go live on April 1 and all filmmakers can apply here in accordance with the eligibility criteria.

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Lupin star on track for Netflix film sequel

Netflix has ordered a sequel to French comedy film On the Other Side of the Tracks, with Senegalese-French actor Omar Sy reprising the role he played in the 2012 movie.

Omar Sy

The as-yet-untitled sequel has already begun shooting in Paris, according to Variety. Best known for starring in Netflix series Lupin and hit movie The Intouchables, Sy will return alongside French actor Laurent Lafitte.

The film follows two cops with very different styles, backgrounds and careers. The unlikely pair are reunited once again for a new investigation that takes them all the way to the French Alps.

The film is scheduled to debut on Netflix in 2022. It will be directed by Louis Leterrier from a screenplay by Stéphane Kazandjian and Eric Altmayer  Nicolas Altmayer.

Sy won the César Award for Best Actor in the 2011 comedy-drama The Intouchables; he also starred in Lupin, Chocolat and Jurassic World.

 

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Netflix, Afolayan develop original trio

Netflix and Nigerian movie producer and director Kunle Afolayan are working on three original titles that will be exclusive to the global streamer.

Kunle Afolayan

The content includes a period drama adapted from Nigerian-American writer Sefi Atta’s 2010 novel Swallow. It focuses on a naive secretary who, after a series of career woes, considers her roommate’s offer to work as a drug mule in mid-1980s Lagos.

The other titles being developed under the Netflix-Afolayan alliance are a folklore fantasy and a character-based drama that deals with dementia while mixing in some African spirituality.

Sharing the news on Instagram, Afolayan said: “The subject matter of the movie Swallow affects everyone globally and, if we take it from Nigeria’s point of view, it’s a peculiar story which is authentic to Africa. We are already in post-production and have filmed 95% of it.”

The cast for Swallow includes Eniola Akinbo (aka Niyola), Deyemi Okanlawon, Ijeoma Grace Agu, Chioma Chukwuka Akpotha, Kunle Idowu (aka Frank Donga), Omotunde Adebowale (aka Lolo), Offiong Anthony (aka Thin Tall Tony), Oreofe Lawal, Eniola Badmus and Mercy Aigbe.

Netflix’s director of content in Africa, Ben Amadasun, added: “We want to keep entertaining the world with great stories and we believe great stories can come from anywhere – Nigeria being one of those markets where we have a very prolific film industry, thus making it the focus market.

“It’s been five years since Netflix launched in Nigeria. Since then, we’ve been able to add a wide variety of Nollywood films and series, and build strong relationships with local creators like Kunle Afolayan.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding to bring his classics like The CEO, October 1, The Figurine and, most recently, Citation to our members around the world and shine a light on Nigerian culture, history, fashion, music, food and languages through his films. It’s been an honour to have some of Kunle’s works on the platform for our members to enjoy.”

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Nyong’o, Portman join Apple adaptation

US streamer Apple TV+ has ordered a limited series based on Laura Lippman’s novel Lady in the Lake, which will star Kenyan-Mexican actor Lupita Nyong’o and Natalie Portman.

Lupita Nyong’o (photo: Gage Skidmore via CC)

Co-written by Alma Har’el and Dre Ryan, the TV adaptation of Lady in the Lake takes place in 1960s Baltimore, where an unsolved murder pushes a housewife and mother (Portman) to reinvent her life as an investigative journalist.

Her investigations set her on a collision course with a hardworking woman (Nyong’o) who is juggling motherhood, many jobs and a passionate commitment to advancing Baltimore’s black progressive agenda.

The series marks Portman and Har’el’s first foray into television. They will both exec produce alongside Nyong’o, Ryan and Lippman, with Har’el also directing.

Crazyrose and Bad Wolf America are the production companies behind the series. Exec producing for Crazyrose are principals Jean-Marc Vallée and Nathan Ross, while founder Julie Gardner exec produces for Bad Wolf.

Natalie Portman (photo: Gage Skidmore via CC)

Also exec producing are Har’el’s producing partner Christopher Leggett, through the former’s new prodco Zusa, and Portman’s producing partner Sophie Mas.

In related news, Apple TV+ has renewed animated musical comedy series Central Park for a third season, ahead of the S2 premiere this June.

From creators, writers and executive producers Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad and Nora Smith, Central Park follows a family who live in and care for the famous New York park. Produced by 20th Television, the first season debuted on Apple TV+ last year.

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Netflix lines up Nigerian movies

Global streaming giant Netflix is set to debut a number of Nigerian movies on its platform this month.

The films include Fate of Alakada, to premiere on March 5, Nigerian American (March 10), Just in Time (March 12), Catch.er (March 17), Who’s the Boss? (March 19) and Three Thieves (March 24).

Fate of Alakada is a comedy written by Moshood Yakubu Olawale and Ozioma Ogbaji, produced by Toyin Abraham and directed by Kayode Kasum. It pokes fun at social media fakeness and the current Nigerian pop culture and stars Toyin Abraham, Alex Ekubo, Odunlade Adekola, Bro Shaggy and Timini Egbuson.

Nigerian American is a stand-up comedy special from US-based Nigerian comedian Seyi Brown, while Just in Time is a family comedy-drama that was shot in Nairobi and was written/directed by LowlaDee and produced by Sarah Hassan.

It features Sarah Hassan, Pierra Makena, Stycie Waweru and Mawuli Gavor in leading roles as well as Kenyan actors Eve D’Souza, Martin Githinji, Lydia Gitachu, Jazz Mistri, Kagwe Mungai, Blessing Lung’aho, and Fidel Maithya.

Catch.er is a crime thriller by Walt Banger that tells the story of an ambitious career woman who is found murdered on her wedding anniversary. It stars Alexx Ekubo, Beverly Naya, OC Ukeje, Kiki Omeili, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Gbenro Ajibade and Tope Tedela.

Who’s the Boss? is a romantic comedy set among millennial women in Nigeria. It is directed by Chinaza Onuzo and distributed by FilmOne Entertainment. It features actors including Funke Akindele, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Segun Arinze, Ini Dima-Okojie, Beverly Osu and Tayo Faniran.

Lastly, Three Thieves is a comedy-thriller directed by Udoka Oyeka, written by Egbemawei Sammy, Abba Makama and Africa Ukoh and produced by Trino Motion Pictures.

A story of mistaken identity, it follows three dissatisfied friends who are contracted to commit a seemingly simple theft. The cast includes Koye Kekere-Ekun, Frank Donga, Shawn Faqua, Eric Obinna and Kalu Ikeagwu.

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Lupita Nyong’o book set for Netflix

Lupita Nyong’o in hit Marvel movie Black Panther

A children’s book written by Hollywood actor Lupita Nyong’o is being adapted as an animated musical film for global streaming platform Netflix.

Sulwe is a children’s picture book about a young girl who wishes for her dark skin to be lighter. The story is about colourism and learning to love oneself regardless of skin tone.

Announcing the news on Instagram, Black Panther and Us star Nyong’o wrote: “Sulwe is going to be an animated movie!! Thank you to the readers of all ages who have joined Sulwe on her starry ride. I’m so excited for this next adventure on Netflix.”

Speaking to Variety, the Kenyan-Mexican actor added: “The story of Sulwe is one that is very close to my heart. Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin. I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love.

“Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colourism, to have understanding and empathy, and an invitation for all who feel different and unseen to recognise their innate beauty and value. I am thrilled that the book is being adapted into an animated musical that we hope inspires children all around the world to celebrate their uniqueness.”

Sulwe has been featured on Netflix’s original show Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, in which Nyong’o read from her book. The release date of the animated adaptation on Netflix has not yet been revealed.

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Loyiso Gola stands up on Netflix

Netflix will premiere a stand-up special from International Emmy-nominated South African comedian Loyiso Gola next month.

Loyiso Gola

Filmed in Cape Town, Unlearning will become available on March 23. In the special, Gola discusses his experience of maturity and masculinity during apartheid in South Africa, according to Okay Africa.

Gola’s stand-up show was recorded in one of South Africa’s grandest art galleries, Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town.

“The special communicates grand ideas, which is what art is: an artist uses a framework or method to express an idea,” Gola told Okay Africa. “When you read about artwork, you get to understand that. I’m trying to communicate ideas with which I’ve grappled. I consider Unlearning as a special piece of art.

“I’ve been doing stand-up for 20 years since I was 17 years old. I’ve always maintained I have to be honest with myself. I don’t talk about what I think will be funny; I talk about what I find funny. I have peculiar ideas when it comes to my comedy. Then I think about how I can make it accessible to an ordinary human being. I communicate the crazy idea of unlearning but everyone gets it.”

On Instagram, he added: “Happy and humble to announce that my Netflix special Unlearning is coming out 23 March. It will be Netflix‘s first African Stand Up Original. Oh, what a feeling.”

Gola won the South African Comedy Award for Best Breakthrough Comedy Act in 2007 and The Savanna SA Comic’s Choice Award – Comic of the Year Award in 2014.

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Namaste Wahala set for Netflix debut

Namaste Wahala was both produced and directed by Hamisha Daryani Ahuja

Indian-Nigerian movie Namaste Wahala, which should have launched in cinemas last April but was delayed due to the pandemic, will now be released on Valentine’s Day on streaming service Netflix.

The romantic comedy is produced by Indian-born businesswoman-turned-filmmaker Hamisha Daryani Ahuja and revolves around a cross-cultural love story between an Indian and a Nigerian.

Shot entirely in Lagos, Nigeria, the classic love story features a Nigerian woman, played by Ini Dima Okojie, and her Indian love interest, portrayed by Ruslaan Mumtaz. They fall in love despite the differences in their cultural backgrounds.

Ahuja, producer and director of the movie, took to Instagram to reveal the news. “I am very excited about my movie Namaste Wahala going to the whole world through Netflix,” she posted.

“The movie showcases the beauty of Nigeria and the wealth of talent in Nollywood. The cast and crew were absolutely fantastic to work with. The Indian and Nigerian cultures seem very different but are essentially the same. They both value family, tradition and respect. Both cultures also have beautiful colours, fashion, music and food.

“It was amazing to see how beautifully the two cultures, which I hold very close to my heart, came together in this fusion movie. I can’t wait for all of you to watch it.”

It features actors from both countries, including veteran Nollywood star Joke Silva plus Richard Mofe Damijo, Ini-Dima Okojie, Ruslaan Mumtaz, MI Abaga, Broda Shaggi, Segal Sujata, Adaora Lumina, Ibrahim Suleiman and Big Brother Naija’s Frodd.

Namaste Wahala is the maiden production of Nigeria-based production company Forever 7 Entertainment, founded by Ahuja.

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Netflix cancels Queen Sono due to Covid

African original Queen Sono was cancelled due to Covid-19

Global streaming platform Netflix has cancelled African original series Queen Sono, reversing its initial decision to renew the show due to “trying times” under Covid-19.

The six-episode first season of the South African crime drama series was filmed across multiple countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania and was released on February 28 this year.

The show was created by director and screenwriter Kagiso Lediga and produced by Diprente Films. It followed the story of intelligence agency field operative Queen Sono (played by Quantico star Pearl Thusi) who sets out to uncover the mystery behind her mother’s death.

In April, the show – Netflix’s first African series – was renewed for a second season but the streamer has now reversed that decision.

Lediga explained: “We wrote a beautiful story that spanned the continent but unfortunately could not be executed in these current trying times.”

In a statement, Netflix said: “We’ve made the difficult decision not to move forward with season 2 of Queen Sono. We are incredibly proud of the Diprente team for sharing their audacious vision and bringing it to life with Netflix.

“A huge thank-you to our fans across the world for the love shared for our first African original series. Netflix is also grateful to the amazing efforts shown by the cast and crew for their stellar efforts in creating this show for our members around the world.”

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Netflix, Realness Institute set up writers lab

Global streaming service Netflix has partnered with African filmmaking organisation Realness Institute on an episodic content development lab for writers of series.

Dorothy Ghettuba

Submissions will be taken between November 30 and January 31, 2021 and are open to writers in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria who have film and TV experience, fiction or factual, in any language.

Six writers will be selected from the submissions to work on projects that will be developed and commissioned by Netflix while they will be paid a stipend of US$2,000 per month to develop their concepts in series format from June to September 2021. For updates, click here.

Dorothy Ghettuba, head of African original programming at Netflix, said: “We strongly believe that Africa has a wealth of untold stories. As we grow our slate of originals in Africa, partnerships with organisations like Realness will help us achieve our goal of investing in writers who will bring diverse genres of authentic, local stories that will ensure our audience members see their lives reflected on screen.”

Mehret Mandefro, director of development and partnerships at Realness Institute, added: “This programme is a response to the dramatically changing broadcasting ecosystem which has a very important role to play in building a thriving media ecosystem in local markets and providing episodic creators with distribution opportunities.”

Elias Ribeiro, co-founder and creative director at Realness Institute, said: “We had fun shaping the programme with the Netflix team. We all share a love for storytelling and Netflix’s writer-centric approach is very much in line with our ethos.”

Realness was founded in 2015 to support the development of African content. It has delivered a yearly Screenwriters’ Residency and in 2020 hosted the first Creative Producer Indaba, a year-long trainee programme for development execs, in association with EAVE, International Film Festival Rotterdam’s IFFR Pro and the Sundance Institute.

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Netflix to debut SA’s Kings of Joburg

Kings of Joburg comes from  Connie Ferguson and Shona Ferguson 

Global streaming platform Netflix will debut South African crime drama Kings of Joburg on December 4.

Kings of Joburg is an action-drama series with a layer of dark fantasy and elements of the African occult. The six-part series delves into legacy building, fragmented family structures, treacherous brotherhoods and the effects of crime on families and society at large.

The show is produced by South African TV production duo Connie Ferguson (Generations, Rockville) and Shona Ferguson (Generations, The Gift) of Ferguson Films in partnership with Samad Davis of US-based Visionary Media.

It stars Shona Ferguson as a charming, prolific businessman who leads the family business. However, under the lavish suits and ties is a man hiding a deep dark secret. It also stars Zolisa Xaluva as an ex-convict who finds himself having to choose between the life that got him in jail and honouring his responsibilities to the legacy of a crime family.

Other cast members include TK Sebothoma, Buhle Samuels, Angela Masire, Tsholofelo Matshaba, SK Khoza, Abdul Khoza, Nnekwa Tsajwa and Cindy Mahlangu.

On adding Kings of Joburg to Netflix’s slate of licensed series, the streamer’s director of licensing and coproductions in Africa, Ben Amadasun, said: “At Netflix, we continuously look for opportunities to create long-term partnerships with the best production partners in South Africa and beyond, as part of our ongoing efforts to bring a diversity of best-in-class African stories, across every genre.”

Shona Ferguson said: “When I created Kings of Joburg, I wanted to root the show in elements of love, family, conflict and power. The premise of the series is centred on the question, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ and this narrative is explored in all six episodes.

Connie Ferguson added: “We’re living in exciting times where the world is becoming smaller and smaller. What used to be out of reach is now a stone’s throw away. With Kings of Joburg, we are taking South Africa and Africa to the world and bringing the world to South Africa. It’s a ‘United States of the World’ show, bringing together talent from America and the continent. It was an honour to work with Netflix to bring to life this passion project.”

Davis said: “Working between Hollywood and across Africa over the decades, I’ve been able to see firsthand the enormous influence and impact Hollywood has had on the hearts and minds of people across Africa. I am honoured to be part of Kings of Joburg because through it and through our partnership with Netflix, we are providing African talent, both in front of the camera and behind it, the opportunity to be a part of their own Hollywood production.”

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