Seven South African classics to stream on Showmax this September

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Still from The Hangman.

This September, Showmax is bringing you an award-winning line-up of local favourites, from a hit horror film that’s up for eight Africa Movie Academy Awards next month, to a multi-award-winning short film that’s in the running for the Oscars next year, to two of South Africa’s favourite soap operas and telenovelas express from Mzansi Magic. Here are seven highlights to add to your Watchlist straight away…

Siembamba (The Lullaby)

Premise: Chloe thought her depression was caused by her child’s birth. Then she starts to suspect that an evil entity is haunting them, but nobody believes her…

Why you should watch: Postpartum depression is terrifying already, even before you add in evil spirits. The horror movie was released in over 150 cinemas in the USA – rare for an SA film – and has an 88 per cent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Accolades: Siembamba is nominated for eight Africa Movie Academy Awards in October, including Best Film, Best Director (Darrell Roodt) and Best Actress (Reine Swart). It was also nominated for two SAFTAs.

The Hangman

Premise: Khetha (Thato DH Dhladla) is a black prison warder guarding black inmates in Pretoria Central Prison’s gallows near the end of Apartheid. His job is further complicated when his estranged father (Khulu Skenjana) is transferred to Death Row.

Why you should watch:

1. It’s in the running for the Oscars in 2019, having won Best Foreign Film at the Oscar-qualifying LA Shorts.

2. Director Zwelethu Radebe is a talent to watch and a Mail & Guardian 200 Young South African selection for 2018.

Accolades: The Hangman’s awards tally is already in double digits, and includes Best South African Short Film at the Durban, Jozi and Shnit film festivals, and Best African Short Film at Zanzibar International Film Festival, among other accolades.

Shepherds and Butchers

Premise: Oscar-nominee Steve Coogan (Philomena) plays a lawyer trying to prevent a prison hangman from being hanged himself.

Why you should watch:

1. It will give you lots to say the next time the death penalty comes up as a solution to South Africa’s challenges.

2. Oliver Schmitz is one of South Africa’s top directors, responsible for classics like Mapantsula and the Oscar-shortlisted Life, Above All.

Accolades: Oliver Schmitz won Best Director at the SAFTAs last year.

The Queen S3, express

Premise: Connie Ferguson is back for a third season in her career-defining role as trophy-wife-turned-matriarch-and-drug-lord Harriet Khoza, one of South Africa’s most loved villains.

Why you should watch: Connie and Shona Ferguson, Rami Chuene, Themba Ndaba, Sello Maake Ka-Ncube and Thembsie Matu. Just don’t get too attached; you can never be sure who the show will kill off next…

Accolades: Thembsie Matu and Rami Chuene are competing against each other to be named South Africa’s favourite actress at this year’s DStv Viewers Choice Awards. The Queen was also nominated for three 2018 SAFTAs.

Isithembiso S2, express

Premise: After matric, Simi and Zamani leave their families behind to pursue a better life in Johannesburg, where a heist is about to go badly wrong…

Why you should watch:

It’s made by Bomb, the production company behind Yizo Yizo, Isibaya and many more of your favourite TV shows.

Accolades: Hamilton Dlamini won Best Actor – TV Soap / Telenovela for his role as Banzi ‘The Wolf of Braamfontein’ Kunene at this year’s SAFTAs, where the series was up for four awards, including Best Telenovela. Londeka Mchunu won Best Newcomer Actress at the Simon Mabhunu Sabela Awards.

Hotel S2

Premise: An Afrikaans mockumentary about a middle-aged hotel manager, Ferdie Kruger (James Borthwick), struggling to keep the doors of his Mpumalanga hotel open.

Why you should watch: Schalk Bezuidenhout is hilarious. As always.

Accolades: Schalk Bezuidenhout won the 2018 SAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Season one won Best Comedy Script at the 2017 SAFTAs.

Die Boekklub S2 – due 17 September 2018

Premise: In season one, Cape Town hipster Tom (Armand Aucamp) inherited a guest house in the Karoo – and a book club. Season two finds him now running the guesthouse alongside Sofia (June van Merch) – and yes, they’re still fighting every day…

Why you should watch: Die Boekklub is a quirky gem and one of the most acclaimed Afrikaans dramedies of recent years.

Accolades: Jana Cilliers has won the SAFTA for Best Supporting Actress two years in a row. Louis Pretorius won Best TV Drama Script in 2017.

Other African-linked highlights coming to Showmax in September include:

  • Abraham, the final film of Afrikaans film legend Jans Rautenbach, who Screen Africa hailed as “arguably South Africa’s most celebrated and, at the same time, most controversial filmmaker.“ Jans passed away in 2016 at the age of 80, a year after Abraham opened to rave reviews in South Africa.
  • Phil 101, a 2018 SAFTA-nominated sitcom set in a philosophy department, starring Bennie Fourie, Philippus Boshoff, and Frank Opperman.
  • Afrikaans surf film Die Pro, starring Edwin van der Walt, based on Leon de Villiers’ multi-award-winning novel.
  • The People Vs. Patriarchy, Lebogang Rasethaba’s much-talked-about MTV documentary that followed on from The People Vs The Rainbow Nation, due 17 September 2018.
  • Kokkedoortjie, a SAFTA-nominated cooking show for children between the ages of 9 and 13, due 20 September 2018.
  • Season two of the charming animated series Zafari, about a zoo of unique creatures near Mount Kilimanjaro, due 24 September 2018.
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Kevin Kriedemann
Kevin is a Cape Town-based writer, publicist, digital marketer and website designer, specialising in the African film industry. Clients include Al Jazeera, Egg Films, Kalahari Pictures, and Searle Street Post, among others. He has previously edited The Callsheet and The Filmmakers Guide to South Africa, and covered the African film industry for the likes of Hollywood Reporter, Mail & Guardian and Variety.

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