Earlier today we formed part of Netflix’s virtual Content Roadshow and boy did they have a lot of cool stuff to share. Strap yourselves in as this is quite a long read but very much a worthwhile one.
Netflix specifically presented a preview of what will be its local and international programming that will delight Mzansi viewers at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. They also previewed some original local projects that are currently in production, with sneak peeks into exciting new material from some of its upcoming releases.
It’s been a year filled with milestones for global streaming service Netflix in the Sub Saharan Africa region with the launch of no less than four South African Netflix Originals on the service February. Since the debuts of Netflix’s script-to-screen Originals earlier this year, Queen Sono and Blood & Water, the global streaming service kept the good news coming with further announcements of more ‘Made in South Africa’ titles, three of these titles – Riding with Sugar, Kings of Joburg and How to Ruin Christmas, will be launching which will make their launch on the service before the end of the year 2020!
Dorothy Ghettuba, Manager for Netflix African Originals said: “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a one step, and 2020, our year of Africa, was that first step with much more to come in 2021. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to partner with local creative talent, on and off screen, to tell more compelling stories that will resonate with local audiences and showcase African stories to the world. I’m so proud of the African Originals we have brought to Netflix viewers in 2020 and excited about the amazing series and films coming over the next several months and into 2021.”
Here are some key 2020 moments of exciting Netflix content as well as what Netflix members in South Africa can expect in December 2020:
- The year began with a bang with Africa’s first script-to-screen production, Queen Sono which was followed by the debut of Netflix’s first African YA drama, Blood & Water which are currently available for our 195 members in 190 countries to stream!
- Following this, the third script-to-screen Original series. Get your dancing shoes ready and brush up on your ‘majaivane’ moves because – JIVA! was announced. The show – currently in production – is a fun and energy-packed drama series that follows the life of the talented street dancer Ntombi, who while juggling the demands of a dead end job, family responsibility and a rocky love life realises that her dance moves could be her ticket out of her working class neighbourhood in Durban. But first, she must overcome her fears, beat her rivals and sort out the chaos that is her family. Busisiwe Ntintili, of The Ntintili Factory, is the Creator and Showrunner of JIVA!
The year also witnessed Netflix’s introductions of two compelling licenced local original films; the much-loved rom-com Seriously Single and 8, an exquisitely crafted horror, rooted in local legend and folklore. A call for more nostalgic content was answered when a number of well-known (and loved) films and series premiered onto the service. These titles included Tsotsi, Gangsters Paradise: Jerusalema, Intersextions and Four Corners. Continuing the growth in South Africa, the leading global entertainment service recently announced 3 new local projects:
- Riding with Sugar – 27 November: Riding with Sugar is a coming-of-age, feel-good story about a young refugee’s quest for BMX glory and the pursuit of identity, safety, happiness and love. The film tells the story of a young refugee, Joshua (Charles Mnene), who has dreams of winning a BMX cycling championship as a means to finding a better life. A pivotal event redirects his fate. He meets Mambo (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), an enigmatic educator and foreigner himself who offers shelter to young refugees from all over the African continent. When Joshua meets Olivia (Simona Brown), a talented young dancer from a well-to-do family, it brings him into a world he has never known before, but their burgeoning love casts a shadow over Mambo’s agenda.
- Kings of Joburg – 4 December: Shona Ferguson stars as Simon “Vader” Masire, a member of the KOJ brotherhood and the eldest of the Masire siblings. As the smoother and charming brother, prolific businessman – Simon, leads the family business. However, under the lavish suites and ties is a man hiding a deep dark secret. Zolisa Xaluva portrays the role of Mogomotsi “Mo” Masire, Simon’s young brother and 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 and older brother he loves.
- How to Ruin Christmas – 16 December: When family rebel and disappointment, Tumi Sello, begrudgingly joins her dysfunctional family for the first Christmas holidays in years, it’s not the merry return of the prodigal daughter everyone was hoping for. She manages to ruin her younger sister’s Christmas wedding before it even takes place, and spends her next 6 days frantically trying to get things back on track
Ben Amadasun, Director of Licensing and Co-productions for Netflix in Africa says “I’m so proud to be part of the team that brought so many riveting licensed African films and series that sparked conversations and entertained our viewers across the continent and the world. The number of titles grew so significantly since the start of 2020, that we created our Made In Africa and Naija to the World collections to help our members easily find their next great African film and series to watch. Going into 2021 we’ll continue to scour the continent for the best-in-class African stories to enjoy.”
One of Netflix’s goals is to build the home of best-in-class content across every genre so that members can find content that suits their every mood or taste. Netflix wants to ensure viewers always have something to talk about – our members have diverse, eclectic tastes – sometimes they want to laugh, other times cry; sometimes they want to sit back and enjoy a guilty pleasure, other times they want to be challenged; sometimes they watch on their own, other times with their friends and families; and we all have different tastes. That’s why we’re expanding beyond drama series to thrillers, kids and family, comedies, feature films and more. Here are some of the of exciting, new, international content made by the world, to be enjoyed by Mzansi viewers:
- The Prom -11 December: When a high school student in small-town Indiana is banned from attending the prom with her girlfriend, a group of self-involved New York City actors find their own lives upended after they step in to champion her cause.
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom -18 December: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable “Mother of the Blues.” Based on Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s play.
- Midnight Sun – 23 December: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine (George Clooney), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully (Felicity Jones) and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe. Clooney directed the adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s acclaimed novel Good Morning, Midnight, co-starring David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir.
- Bridgerton – 25 December: From Shondaland and Creator Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton follows Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family as she makes her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market. Hoping to follow in her parent’s footsteps and find a match sparked by true love, Daphne’s prospects initially seem to be unrivalled. But as her older brother begins to rule out her potential suitors, the high society scandal sheet written by the mysterious Lady Whistledown casts aspersions on Daphne. Enter the highly desirable and rebellious Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), committed bachelor and the catch of the season for the debutantes’ mamas. Despite proclaiming that they want nothing the other has to offer, their attraction is undeniable and sparks fly as they find themselves engaged in an increasing battle of wits while navigating society’s expectations for their future.
As if that’s not enough to whet our entertainment fans’ appetite for 2020 & 2021, Netflix recently formed a partnership with Realness Institute to create an Episodic Content Development Lab for writers in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. Submissions for this Writer’s Lab at the end of November on realness.institute/episodic-lab. The partnership is part of Netflix’s efforts to find and develop more stories from the continent with the six writers selected from the submissions to work on projects that will be developed and commissioned by the service.