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Kevin Kriedemann

Kevin Kriedemann
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Kevin consults on PR and marketing for Africa’s film industry. Current clients include Showmax, Triggerfish and Tulips and Chimneys; previous clients include Al Jazeera, Egg, Encounters, Film Afrika, and the Oscar-nominated short films Asad and Revolting Rhymes. Before changing sides, Kevin edited The Callsheet and The Filmmakers Guide To South Africa and freelanced for the likes of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter as a journalist. He’s also co-founder of Africa.film, a site where you can watch Africa's best videos, as chosen by the continent's best filmmakers and the world's top film festivals and websites.

Stroop wins prestigious SAB Environmental Media Award

The South African Breweries (SAB) along with its judging panel announced the winners of the annual SAB Environmental Media of the Year awards at its headquarters in Johannesburg on 12 November. Stroop – journey into the rhino horn war took the Video Media (Long Form) award for 2019.

The awards, now in their third decade, aim to recognize South African journalists who have excelled at reporting on, and creating awareness of, environmental issues across print, electronic and digital media. Bongani Bingwa, MC of the event, says it was a unanimous decision by the judges for the hard-hitting South African film that has ignited world-wide interest in rhino poaching and has screened at numerous film festivals as well as on TV channels around the globe. 

This is the 25th award for the filmmakers of Stroop, Susan Scott and Bonné de Bod. “The film has won so many international awards which is wonderful of course!  But it’s very important to be recognized back home,” says an emotional de Bod. “This is a very prestigious award, and has been given out by SAB for over thirty years, so to have the focus put squarely on rhino poaching, considering all the environmental issues out there, is just vital and I’m very pleased about that.”

One of the film’s characters, Karen Trendler, was honoured with the Nick Steele Memorial Award for Environmentalist of the Year – the top nod at the award ceremony.  “How wonderful that Karen has been recognized for her thirty years of service to caring for and rewilding wild animals!” Scott adds that Trendler, a world famous wildlife rehabilitator, shared this with notable environmentalists who have made meaningful impact in their fields like the UN Patron for the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, and lion advocate Gareth Patterson. 

This is the first cash award that the filmmakers have won for the film and Scott says they are choosing to share it with their mothers, who they moved in with during the four years of filming on Stroop. Stroop is a gripping wildlife crime thriller documentary that takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride between Africa and Asia. These first time filmmakers embed themselves on the front-lines of the rhino poaching crisis where they are given exclusive access to the war unfolding.  Carving out six months for the project, the two women quickly find themselves immersed in a world far larger and more dangerous than they had imagined, only emerging from their odyssey four years later.


Lockdown season 5 is now shooting in Johannesburg

Season 5 of Lockdown, South Africa’s favourite prison drama, started production last week in Johannesburg, where it’s mostly shooting at Constitution Hill, the historic prison complex where the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Albertina Sisulu served time. 

Every season of Lockdown introduces a new star. This time it’s Sophie Lichaba, aka Sophie Ndaba, who became a household name in South Africa during her two-decade-long starring role as the feisty receptionist Queen Moroka in the SABC1 soapie Generations. 

The multi-award-winning actress joins one of the most impressive casts on South African television: at the SAFTAs this year, four of the six Drama acting nominations for women went to Lockdown cast members: Dawn Thandeka King won Best Actress as Mazet, ahead of her co-star Zola Nombona as Monde (and International Emmy nominee Thuso Mbedu), while Lorcia Cooper won Best Supporting Actress as Tyson, ahead of her co-star Pamela Nomvete as Governor Deborah Banda. 

Since losing a noticeable amount of weight last year due to diabetes, Sophie’s been reported dead on social media repeatedly, most recently as she started filming Lockdown last week. 

The SAFTA winner is unfazed by the fake news, saying, “I’m just excited to be tackling such a challenging role on one of the biggest shows in the country.”

Every episode of Lockdown has trended on Twitter, so Sophie’s new character on the groundbreaking series will give social media something better to talk about on 31 January 2020, when Season 5 will premiere, only on Showmax. 

“We haven’t seen Sophie in a while on South African television,” says Lockdown creator Mandla N, who is still directing every episode of the hit show. “But you could have said the same about Lorcia or Pamela when we cast them, and they’ve both reclaimed their places among the biggest stars in South Africa.” 

Notorious for its cliffhangers, plot twists and emotional rollercoasters, Lockdown takes viewers into the cells and offices of Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Facility. 

As Season 5 picks up, Deborah is under pressure from The Department of Correctional Services, after one death too many at the prison. Arch-rivals Mazet and Tyson are still running the prison yard together, for now.  And Monde is trying to make things right with Vicky (Lauren Jenae), while worrying about her sister Katlego (Natasha Thahane), who’s been transferred to Kgotsong Asylum. 

SAFTA winners Linda Sebezo and Nomsa Buthelezi are also back as fan favourites Maki and Slenda, while the multi-award-winning Patricia Boyer returns as the hilarious but dangerous Sue. 

Produced by Black Brain Pictures, Lockdown was the most awarded drama at this year’s SAFTAs, taking home five awards, including Best Drama.

Lockdown is moving from Mzansi Magic, so binge-watch Season 5, only on Showmax, on 31 January 2020. In the meantime, you can catch up on the first four seasons here. 

Best local TV shows of 2019 so far

The likes of Rotten Tomatoes recently announced their top TV shows of 2019 so far, but there hasn’t been any similar list for fans of local series. Until now. 

We asked five specialists – Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax; Nicola van Niekerk, senior manager: scripted content, kykNET; Tebogo Matlawa, content acquisitions specialist at Mzansi Magic and 1Magic; Tracy-Ann van Rooyen, senior manager: content acquisitions and scheduling series at M-Net; and Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Multichoice Group Africa – to pick their favourite show of the year. 

Here are their recommendations on what you need to catch up on immediately: 

BIG BROTHER NAIJA

Picked by: Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Multichoice Group Africa
What’s it about? In this Africa Magic reality show, contestants get locked up in one house and try to outlast their housemates to win 60 million Naira worth of prizes.

Claim to fame? “This is a show that gets the whole of Nigeria talking, it’s nonstop 24/7, and best of all this show exposes incredible Nigerian talent.”  

Why is it your favourite? “If it’s loved by our viewers, then it’s my favourite!”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

EHOSTELA S1
Picked by: Tebogo Matlawa, content acquisitions specialist at Mzansi Magic and 1Magic
What’s it about? “A Maskandi-singing, guitar-playing hitman inadvertently kills the father of the love of his life. That sets him on a journey that will forever change his life.”

Claim to fame? “It was a truly ground-breaking story, telling a narrative about a world many know about but few have dared venture into.”

Why is it your favourite? “It was really just an amazing Mzansi Magic show that we believe changed the landscape of SA television.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

HOTEL S3
Picked by: Nicola van Niekerk, senior manager: scripted content, kykNET
What’s it about? “A kykNET mockumentary about middle-aged hotel owner Ferdie Kruger and his team of small-town misfits, who work together to make the hotel a solid 2-to-3-star experience for visitors. Ferdie tries to keep his team focused on the hotel while running for mayor of Fransenburg. In Season 3, all the staff get involved in his mayoral campaign, but the best intentions lead to the funniest situations and miscommunications.”

Claim to fame? Hotel 3 has been a highlight for us in terms of how fresh the comedy is and how much the viewers loved it. The show is becoming a cult classic and has appealed to younger and older viewers alike. It also shows that Afrikaans viewers love to laugh in their own language and with their communities, despite their exposure to international comedy series. It’s a quirky comedy starring actors at the top of their game. Schalk Bezuidenhout proves that he is not only a stand-up comedian but has incredible range as an actor. It also stars James Borthwick as the stubborn hotel owner and Simoné Nortmann, Mila Guy, Beer Adriaanse, Martelize Kolver and De Klerk Oelofse, to name a few. The show is directed by Bennie Fourie, one of the freshest and funniest voices in Afrikaans comedy.“
Why is it your favourite? “It is really funny, a breakout show in terms of comedy. I love that my husband and six-year-old laugh together; my husband at the word play, and my son at the physical comedy. I also love the guest actors who feature in each series. It makes me so happy that these guest actors are willing to come and poke fun at themselves on this show. I’m looking forward to Season 4 starting in January 2020.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

SURVIVOR SA: ISLAND OF SECRETS
Picked by: Tracy-Ann van Rooyen, senior manager: content acquisitions and scheduling series at M-Net
What’s it about? “It’s the localised version of the much-loved reality series format. Castaways are left on a secluded island and have to build or break relationships to be the sole survivor and win R1 million.”

Claim to fame? “It’s the grand-daddy of reality competition television and is produced all over the world. Its biggest version is the USA version with host Jeff Probst, which is in its 38th season.”

Why is it your favourite? “It’s the most well produced and directed reality show on M-Net right now; local or international. I love the story-telling and the unpacking of the characters’ drive. It’s compelling television and I never miss an episode.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

THE GIRL FROM ST AGNES S1
Picked by: Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax
What’s it about? “It’s an eight-part murder mystery series, set in a prestigious all-girls school in KZN. Kate Ballard, St Agnes’s drama teacher, can’t come to terms with the death of one of her students and takes it upon herself to investigate what really happened to Lexi.” 

Claim to fame? “It’s a beautifully filmed local drama, filled with twists and turns. It had more views on its first day than any other series on Showmax before, local or international.”
Why is it your favourite? “I loved the world of the story – which was captured incredibly well. The cinematography and soundtrack are simply outstanding. This was really something fresh for the South African market to soak in.”

Watch the trailer.
Stream it.

Honourable mentions include:

  • Elders: Japan, kykNET’s travel show with Erns Grundling – “so funny and sweet… our own idiot abroad”
  • Impilo: The Scam, Mzansi Magic’s pyramid-scheme drama show, starring Desmond Dube
  • Kokkedoor 3, kykNET’s reality TV cooking competition that is “spectacular, gripping and a visual feast”
  • Selina, an “unmissable” Kenyan telenovela on Maisha Magic East, starring Celestine Gachuhi
  • Seng’khathele, Mzansi Wethu’s reality TV show about break-ups, hosted by Lerato Mvelase
  • Table Manners, “a really sweet local film” about family, food and love, now on Showmax
  • The Republic, a Mzansi Magic drama starring Florence Masebe as the South African President
  • uThando Nes’thembu, Mzansi Magic’s reality TV show about a polygamous marriage
  • Zuba, Zambia’s first telenovela, on Zambezi Magic

New Showmax Original comedy starts shooting in Maboneng

Woke In Progress, Showmax’s second Original scripted comedy, is now shooting in Johannesburg. 

The fish-out-of-water comedy is set at The Maboneng Marble, where two broke, tryna-be-woke twenty-somethings become unlikely roommates. Having just found out she’s adopted, 22-year-old Martie has come to Joburg searching for her birth parents; 25-year-old Amandla is trying to reconnect with the motherland after decades of following her political elite father between international posts.

Think 2 Broke Girls meets Dear White People, or Broad City meets Insecure, or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt meets Ayeye

Woke In Progress is created by 30-year-old showrunner Rea Moeti, who has rapidly made a name for herself since graduating from her Masters at The National Film and Television School in the UK – named one of The Top 15 International Film Schools by The Hollywood Reporter last year.  

Moeti’s Marikana-themed short film, Mma Moeketsi, won Best African Short Film at Cape Town, Jozi, and Zanzibar International Film Festivals, and is currently up for an Africa Movie Academy Award. She was also head writer on the first two seasons of Lockdown, winning the SAFTA for Best Drama Writer. But comedy is Moeti’s first love: she was head writer on SAFTA-winning sitcoms like Ses’Top La and Abo Mzala, as well as a director on the SAFTA-nominated Thandeka’s Diary.

In 2017, when Moeti first pitched Woke In Progress to Showmax, Vogue had just proclaimed Maboneng “the coolest neighbourhood in Johannesburg,” while last year Forbes included the cultural hub in its roundup of “The 12 Coolest Neighbourhoods Around The World.” 

“Our first two scripted Originals – Tali’s Wedding Diary and The Girl From St Agnes – both broke records as the most watched shows on Showmax ever, so we know our audience is hungry for quality South African series,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Multichoice’s Connected Video, which houses Showmax and DSTV Now. “We think they’re going to love laughing with Maboneng’s Afropunk crowd just as much as they did with Talibabes in Sea Point in Tali’s Wedding Diary.” 

Newcomer Laura Lee Mostert plays Martie. She spent 2018 studying in Los Angeles: method acting at Lee Strasberg Institute, whose alumni include Marilyn Monroe and Uma Thurman, and improv at The Groundlings Theatre, whose alumni include Melissa McCarthy and Will Ferrell. 

Zandile Lujabe, best known as Palesa in Isidingo and Mpho Pop’s love interest Ziyanda in Ayeye, plays Amandla. Like Mostert, Lujabe also studied acting internationally, at New York Film Academy, whose alumni include Issa Rae. 

Other key cast include Kiroshan Naidoo, winner of the 2016 Fleur du Cap for Most Promising Student, as Christo, a paranoid misanthrope programmer who shares the flat with Martie and Amandla; Lebogang Tlokana (aka The Funny Chef) as the over-entrepreneurial apartment manager, Lerato; Ebenhaezer Dibakwane, the 2016 Comics Choice Newcomer and 2017 Intermediate Award winner as her brother Puma, the receptionist/artist; and SAFTA nominee Yule Masiteng (aka Jomo Zungu in Scandal!) as the homeless sage who camps outside The Maboneng Marble. 

They’re joined by a support cast of hoteps, Tinder-fodder, taxi-blessers, and tour guides.  

“Working on Lockdown was evidence for me that MultiChoice is offering shows that are becoming more and more daring, and that our audience is ready,” says Moeti. “When I first pitched Woke in Progress to Showmax, it was tamer than it is now, because I thought that was what South African platforms wanted. But Showmax has pushed it to go further. So it’s because of Showmax that the girls are as liberated as they are now.” 

Moeti co-created Woke in Progress with Emma Lungiswa De Wet, one of the writers on the hit animation Munki and Trunk, which has two million YouTube subscribers. “In a way she’s Martie to my Amandla,” jokes Moeti. 

They later brought on Karabo Lediga, who won 2019 SAFTAs for both drama (Emoyeni) and comedy (Thuli no Thulani) writing, and Moeti’s fellow National Film and Television School MA graduate Sipho Sondiyazi. 

Tali’s Wedding Diary dominated the comedy category at this year’s SAFTAs, taking home five awards, including Best Comedy and Best Actress (Julia Anastasopoulos), so Woke In Progress has a lot to live up to. You’ll be able to make up your own mind when the edgy comedy premieres on Showmax on 12 December 2019. 

Five reasons to watch Kanarie

Kanarie, Schalk Bezuidenhout’s breakout movie, is now streaming first on Showmax in South Africa.

Schalk stars as Johan Niemand, a fashion-loving gay teen in small-town South Africa in 1985, a time of apartheid, religious conservatism and war, an era when not even his idol Boy George had dared to come out publicly as gay yet.

When Johan is called up to serve his compulsory two-year military training, he escapes the border war by joining The South African Defence Force Church Choir and Concert Group, known as Die Kanaries (The Canaries), where he discovers his true self through hardship, camaraderie, first love and the liberating freedom of music.

If you missed Kanarie at the cinema – and it was only the 10th most popular South African movie at the box office last year, so clearly most of us did – here are five reasons not to sleep on one of the most fun but moving South African films yet:

#1. Schalk Bezuidenhout is one of our favourite comedians, but might be an even better actor
Schalk is one of South Africa’s top comedians: the winner of two Comics’ Choice Awards, described by Skhumba recently as “the one white comedian loved by black people.”

But in Trippin With Skhumba earlier this year, Schalk confessed that he wanted to be an actor before he thought of being a comedian.

On the basis of his performance in Kanarie, acting might still be his true calling, as much as we hope we still get to laugh with him often on stage. The Los Angeles Times compared him to the legendary Buster Keaton while praising his “clear talent for drama” and the way he “superbly juggles Johan’s many moods and modes,” while FilmThreat raved about his “confident, raw performance.”

Schalk earned a 2019 South African Film and Television Award nomination for this role and won Best Supporting Actor last year as Danny in Hotel, but we’re pretty sure he’s just getting started.

Just be warned: he’s missing his trademark knitted jerseys, moustache and wild hair in Kanarie, so you might not recognise him immediately in the movie, but just look out for the guy in the wedding dress in the opening scene…

#2. Germandt Geldenhuys is hilarious, and can seriously sing
Schalk is ably supported by the rest of the cast, particularly Hannes Otto as his love interest, Wolfgang, and Germandt Geldenhuys as the irrepressible Ludolf, in a hilarious performance that won Best Supporting Actor at Silwerskerm and earned a SAFTA nomination.

As FilmThreat put it, “Ludolf’s happy to see anyone and loves to chat with them about whatever. While it sounds like it may be annoying, Geldenhuys finds the right balance of pluck and genuine sympathy to make the character work.”

Germandt won the 2017 Huisgenoot Tempo For Actor of the Year: Soap Operas for his role as Louis Koster in Binnelanders; earned a Fleur Du Cap nomination for Sweeney Todd; and won the Grand Champion Award for singing at The World Performing Championships, which will surprise no one who hears him sing in Kanarie.

#3. Christiaan Olwagen is a director to watch

After being named Standard Bank Young Artist Of The Year for Theatre in 2015, Christiaan Olwagen switched his focus to cinema, writing and directing three acclaimed Afrikaans films in three years: 2016’s Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie, 2018’s Chekhov adaptation Die Seemeeu, and Kanarie, with a fourth, Poppie Nongena, premiering at kykNET’s Silwerskermfees this month.

Kanarie is an impressive mix of genres – a coming-of-age, coming out, musical love story war film – that is sometimes funny, sometimes heart-warming, and occasionally tragic, and that moves from raw reality to music-video-style flights of fancy and back again seamlessly. It’s an incredible balancing act but one that Christiaan makes look easy. While he may not be famous outside the Afrikaans community yet, he’s still in his early 30s and we’d put money on that changing soon… As BusinessDay put it, he’s “streets ahead of other directors.”

#4. Kanarie is inspired by a true story

In Kanarie, Schalk and the rest of the cast are helped by what The Los Angeles Times described as “a first-rate script,” which director Christiaan Olwagen co-wrote with musical director Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, based on Charl’s own experiences in the army choir.

As Charl told BizCommunity, “I believe one of the strengths of the film is the fact that it is a very personal story and that it is true. People are very surprised when they find out that approximately 95% of it is factual. It’s not often you get to watch a film of this nature where the narrative is so close to what really happened. We didn’t have to invent a whole lot – it was all just ready to be told.”

#5. Kanarie is a funny, moving tale about standing out, even when you just want to fit in
Sometimes we sell things short when we pitch them as good South African films. Kanarie is a good film. Period.

It has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes; a 7.9 rating on IMDB; and has won 15 awards around the world. As The Los Angeles Times put it, “Kanarie ably hits the high notes… rich, poignant and finely observed… “ Or as The Hollywood Reporter said, while predicting an international theatrical run, Kanarie is “a winning combination of thoughtfulness and exuberance.” Similarly, Indiewire picked it as one of seven films to watch at Outfest, North America’s premier LGBTI festival, calling it a “surprisingly fun” musical about “the effects of nationalism on a tender soul, and the bond of brotherhood among misfits.”

So whether or not you’re gay, or Afrikaans, or want to support proudly South African products, Kanarie is the film for you, next time you’re in the mood for an uplifting musical love story about finding individuality in a world of oppression and uniformity. Watch it first on Showmax here. 

Award-winning Thuli Madonsela doc airs on Showmax for Women’s Month

Whispering Truth To Power, Shameela Seedat’s documentary about Thuli Madonsela’s last year as South Africa’s public protector, is now streaming first on Showmax.

A perfect fit for Women’s Month, the acclaimed documentary – which went live on Showmax on Women’s Day, 9 August – won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs, North America’s most important documentary festival, as well as awards at FESPACO, Luxor African Film Festival, and Jozi Film Festival, where it was also the opening night film, like it was at Encounters.

The Hot Docs jury praised Whispering Truth To Power for “its timely portrait of a bad-ass public servant who uses her office for good at a pivotal moment in South African politics.”

With exclusive, behind-the-scenes access, Whispering Truth To Power charts the final year in office of South Africa’s anti-corruption champion as she attempts to seek justice for ordinary people.

After successfully challenging President Jacob Zuma for illegal use of state funds, Thuli now has to face the biggest challenge of her career: investigating – in the face of protests, death threats and legal challenges – the alleged systematic takeover of government by a private family in cahoots with the President.

If you’re looking for a woman to inspire you this Women’s Month, Thuli is an obvious choice: soft-spoken but decisive, she was named Daily Maverick’s South African Person Of The Year in 2011, one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2014, and Forbes’ African Person Of The Year and one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2016, among many other accolades.

But while Thuli herself is inspiring, the story Whispering Truth To Power has to tell is sobering for South Africans.

“In other countries, people don’t know who the ombudsman is,” says her son Wantu early in the documentary, after complaining good-naturedly about how hard it was for him to have a normal conversation about Liverpool versus Manchester United without someone bringing up his mother. “If the government is doing their job properly, then the ombudsman is not this celebrated figure who is fighting the good fight, because there shouldn’t be that fight.”

While Whispering Truth To Power is partly a gripping tale of Thuli versus Zuma, the Guptas, and a ticking clock, it’s also an intimate look at her life as a single, working mother of two adult children, and the generational tensions that exist in South Africa at the moment.

At the time of the documentary, Madonsela’s daughter Wenzile was a student at The University of Pretoria, a member of the EFF’s student structures, and clearly had a different view of South Africa’s political priorities to that of her mother.

“There is tremendous love between them, and there are of course, raging tensions,” wrote Sisonke Msimang in Africa Is A Country. “Their relationship. with all its contradictions … is perhaps a perfect metaphor for the state of South Africa.”

Whispering Truth To Power was the debut feature documentary from director Shameela Seedat, who previously worked in human rights and social justice research and advocacy, including at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, UNIFEM in New York and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.

Whispering Truth To Power is just one of a number of great films and series by accomplished South African women on Showmax, like Nosipho Dumisa’s gripping Cape Flats thriller Nommer 37; Catharine Cooke and Cindy Lee’s record-breaking high school mystery series, The Girl From St Agnes; and Aliki Saragas’ award-winning documentary about the women of Marikana, Strike a Rock

Three reasons to binge gritty Cape Town cop drama, Die Byl

Cape Town is the South African city with the highest murder and robbery rate, so it’s the logical setting for Season 2 of Die Byl, the gritty Afrikaans cop drama that is now available to binge, first on Showmax, ahead of its run on kykNET in December 2019.

Piet van der Bijl (Waldemar Schultz) is a brilliant detective who specialises in serial killers – and a workaholic who will do anything for those closest to him.

In Season 2, which is set five years later, Byl’s relationship with Advocate Nicky Swanepoel (2018 Tempo Awards Actress of the Year nominee Milan Murray from Waterfront) is on the rocks, while his ex-wife Carien (Fiesta, Kanna, Vita and ATKV winner Rolanda Marais from Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie), is back in his life.

But as usual, Byl’s more preoccupied with his cases, as he comes up against increasingly sophisticated serial killers who target Cape Flats gang members, senior citizens at a retirement home, inmates at a maximum security prison, and first responders at emergency sites, among others.

While these cases are episodic, the tension builds throughout the season as someone starts targeting those closest to Byl, and the hunters become the hunted…

Here are three reasons to add Die Byl to your watchlist, whether you speak Afrikaans or not:

  1. It’s inspired by “South Africa’s very own super sleuth”

While the cases are fictional, Die Byl is inspired by the real life South African cop Piet Byleveld, who solved some of South Africa’s most talked-about cases, like the murders of Leigh Matthews, Sheldean Human and Sibille Zanner, and caught infamous serial killers like Lazarus Mazingane, the Nasrec killer, and Cedric Maake, the Wemmer Pan Killer.

According to Daily Maverick,  Byleveld – or Piet Byl as he was known – was “one of the best detectives ever to have the job. He had a 99% success rate in a career that spanned almost 40 years” – and assisted the FBI, Mossad and Scotland Yard in investigations.

Byleveld consulted on Season 1 of Die Byl shortly before he passed away in 2017. He was widely mourned, with News24 calling him a “top cop”; Daily Maverick hailing him as “South Africa’s very own super sleuth;” and IOL describing him as “a serial killer hunter with a gentle side.”

  1. It’s the best cast we’ve seen in ages

Waldemar Schultz (7de Laan) and Lika Berning (Liefling) won the Huisgenoot Tempo Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in 2017 for their roles in the first season as the brooding colonel Piet van der Bijl and his profiler, Captain Lena Evans, respectively.

They’re supported by an exceptional cast that also includes Marvin-Lee Beukes (Waterfront, Die Boland Moorde) as captain Juan Stuurman, who has moved from Byl’s team into IT; Vita award winner Eric Nobbs as pathologist Dr Fritz Barnard and Trudy van Rooy as his new lab assistant, Dr Shani van Rooi; Avanti winner Barbara-Marié Immelman as Ellie Bonthuys, once a journalist only looking for sensationalism, now the police unit’s spokesperson; and Vita award winner Tertius Meintjes as general Neels van As, whose relationship with Byl is improving now that the detective is no longer dating his ex-wife Nicky.

Other key cast include aKING lead vocalist Laudo Liebenberg (Kanarie, Black Sails); SAFTA winner Deon Lotz (Skoonheid, Shepherds and Butchers); and Jessie Berning as the young son of Captain Lena Evans (played by his real-life mother, Lika Berning).

There are also guest appearances in each 70-minute episode, from the likes of 2018 Tempo Awards Actor of the Year Marlo Minnaar (Sara Se Geheim); Silwerskerm winners Cintaine Schutte (Die Seemeeu) and Albert Pretorius (Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie); and three-time ATKV Best Actress winner Jana Kruger (Swartwater), not to mention SAFTA winners Denise Newman (Shirley Adams, Suidooster), Marius Weyers (Dis Ek, Anna), and Jody Abrahams (Hard Copy, Arendsvlei), among many other faces you’ll recognise.

  1. It’s made by Marche Media, with Quentin Krog as one of the directors
    The nail-biting crime series is being produced by Marche Media – the current darlings of the Afrikaans production industry – responsible for award-winning films like Kanarie and Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie; documentaries like Nobody’s Died Laughing: A Journey With Pieter-Dirk Uys; and hit series like Die Spreeus, Dwaalster, and the multi-award-winning Boer Soek ‘n Vrou.

Quentin Krog (Die Boekklub, Vir Die Voëls, Ballade Vir ‘n Enkeling, Thys & Trix) directs the first episode. He’s one of three directors on the second season, alongside Liezl Spies (Tempo Awards TV Series Of The Year Sara Se Geheim) and Leon Kruger, head writer on Season 1 and 2 of Die Byl and hit shows like Waterfront.

All 14 episodes of Die Byl S2 are now streaming, with English subtitles, on Showmax here. 

Triggerfish launches free career-focused learning platform for animators

Triggerfish, in partnership with Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has launched Triggerfish Academy, a free digital learning platform for anyone wanting to understand more about the career opportunities and how to get started in the field of animation.

The website features 25 free video tutorials, quizzes and animation exercises introducing animation as a career and the principles of storytelling, storyboarding and animation, as well as several additional resources to help guide aspiring animators into a career in animation.

“The South African animation industry is growing – and so is the demand for skilled animators globally,” said Noemie Njangiru, head of Culture and Development at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, pointing to  the success of recent Triggerfish projects like the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes; Mama K’s Team 4, recently announced by Netflix as their first original animated series from Africa; and this year’s New York Children’s Festival and Shanghai International Film and TV Festival winner Zog.

Njangiru also highlighted the opportunities for animation outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality

The course was created by Tim Argall, currently the animation director on Triggerfish’s third feature film, Seal Team. He’s roped in many of the South African animation industry’s brightest stars, from Malcolm Wope, character designer on Mama K’s Team 4, and Annike Pienaar, now working at Illumination in Paris on Sing 2, to Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the multi-award-winning BBC adaptations Stick Man and Zog, and Faghrie Coenraad, lead dressing and finaling artist on the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes, as well as Triggerfish head of production Mike Buckland. The featured talent share not just their skills but also their stories, from how they broke the news they wanted to be animators to their parents, to common myths about the animation industry.

“As kids, animation is part of our lives, so we don’t really think about the idea that animation is actually somebody’s job,” said Argall. “When I was a kid, I loved animation and I loved to draw. I remember when I was about 12, I thought: ‘I really want to see my drawings come to life. I want to be an animator.’ But I had no idea where to even begin.”

Triggerfish Academy is his attempt to make it easier for the next generation of African animators: an accessible starter kit for anyone considering a career in animation.

“By the end of working through this course, you’ll have all the background you need to know whether animation is a good choice for your career,” said Njangiru.

Aspiring animators can also use Triggerfish Academy to learn how to write and animate their own short story, then post their animation on the Academy’s Facebook group for feedback and advice from professional animators.

Triggerfish Academy is set up so that youth can play with it directly, but it’s also been designed to double as an activity plan for teachers, NGOs and after school programmes to use. Schools, organisations and other animation studios who are interested in using it can contact Triggerfish for additional free classroom resources.

Triggerfish Academy is just one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators, like sponsoring bursaries to The Animation School; the Mama K’s Team 4 Writers Lab with Netflix; the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry; Animate Africa webinars; Draw For Life; and the Triggerfish Foundation schools outreach programme.

Kokstad sister and brother become first Africans to screen at top VR competition

Last week The Lost Botanist, co-directed by the Kokstad-raised sister and brother team of Ree and Rick Treweek, became the first virtual reality (VR) experience from Africa to screen in competition at Annecy, the world’s most prestigious animation festival.

The Lost Botanist was one of just nine VR experiences competing at VR@Annecy, from 90 submissions from nearly 30 countries.

Ree and Rick were up against big name projects like Gymnasia, from the Emmy-winning Felix & Paul Studios; Doctor Who: The Runaway, voiced by Jodi Whittaker; Wolves In The Wall, Chapter 2, It’s All Over, based on the Neil Gaiman book; and Gloomy Eyes, narrated by Colin Farrell, which took home the Cristal.

Ree was one of two female directors in the VR category at Annecy. The Lost Botanist marked her second film in competition at Annecy, 12 years after The Blackheart Gang’s The Tale Of How kick-started her career by winning a Special Distinction Cristal in 2007.

A five-minute interactive adventure for immersive devices, The Lost Botanist is a collaboration between Rick’s Johannesburg-based emerging technology research and development house, Eden Labs, and Ree’s Cape Town-based creative studio, Tulips & Chimneys.

You are The Lost Botanist, misplaced in a world that’s forgotten all about nature. While researching the lost marvels of the natural world, you open a grimoire that transports you to The Under-Garden, the dream-like home of the spirits of all forgotten things. In each of the wondrous places you’ll visit, you must find a mythical creature to guide you further into the unknown, from The Nethermere to The Amber Vale to The Nevermist…

“I’ve always wanted to create a world that people could step into, a visual world people could be immersed in and lost in, so for me The Lost Botanist is an absolute dream come true,” says Ree, who is Africa’s most awarded animation director, having been recognised everywhere from the Clios to Clermont-Ferrand, D&AD to Mobius, The London International Awards to New York Festival, and The Loeries to The South African Film and Television Awards, among others. She’s also one of Africa’s most watched animation directors: Amumu: The Curse of the Sad Mummy, her League of Legends short film for Riot Games, has over 18m YouTube views.

Technically, Rick says The Lost Botanist stands out from most other VR experiences for three main reasons: its counterintuitive use of 2D animation in a 360 environment; its use of a 3D printed Oculus Go case shaped like an owl, that feels like an artwork in itself; and its development focus on the standalone VR headset Oculus Go, a comparatively light and low-spec platform.

Rick and Ree plan to extend The Lost Botanist with additional levels in the immersive experience; a spinoff film; an augmented reality game and a merchandise range that includes toys, adult colouring books, and puzzles. “This is just a prologue for a much bigger experience,” says Rick, who has worked with artists like William Kentridge and Mary Sibande at Eden Labs.

He believes The Lost Botanist’s timing couldn’t be better. “There’s a pure lack of VR content, so if we can get The Lost Botanist on the stores now, it will get eyeballs,” says Rick, whose first company, Breakdesign, generated over 16 million mobile game downloads. “It feels a lot like mobile games in 2007, like everything is coming full circle for me…”

Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market ran from 10-15 June 2019 in Annecy, France. Check out the full VR line-up here.

The Lost Botanist continues its festival run at New Images Festival currently run until 23 June 2019 in Paris, France, where it was selected from 109 applications from 21 countries.

Follow The Lost Botanist on Instagram for updates.

Director Speak: Likarion Wainaina

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

This month Screen Africa chats to award-winning Kenyan director Likarion Wainaina…

Supa Modo has become so successful, becoming the most-awarded film in Kenya and a critics’ favourite. Did you anticipate this success when you were directing this film?

Definitely not. We are extremely grateful for the awards. It’s always a good feeling to know that your art is appreciated but it was never our end goal. We just wanted to do a film that shows us as Kenyans. Who we are. Who we can be. I don’t want to be the kind of filmmaker who makes movies just so I can chase after awards because then you lose the meaning of being a filmmaker and you begin to compete with yourself, to always one-up your previous film.

How has this movie made you grow as a film director and as a filmmaker in Kenya?

It’s definitely helped me gain a deeper understanding of the Kenyan and international markets. Getting feedback from a lot of Kenyans really shows where the heads of Kenyan audiences are. And I can tell you that African audiences are definitely hungry for their own stories, so I hope to continue doing more African stories.

Just A Band’s Makmende is cleverly inserted into the movie as both music and art, what informed this decision?

We were looking for local films to show in the cinema for Jo, our lead character, to watch. When I got in the industry, I was a huge fan of Just A Band and their music videos. So when we reached out to one of the members, Mbithi Masya, and he agreed for us to use their most famous music video, I was ecstatic. K1 also makes an appearance as Makmende and I was a huge fan of the character. I wanted to make a Makmende movie so this was the next best thing.

What scene that was the hardest to direct? Why?

The hardest was the Jo death scene, when we had to film the scene where the mother and daughter are grieving. It was difficult because we were all so emotionally invested in the characters. There was such a heavy emotion over the set and everyone was crying and I couldn’t call “cut” because even I was choking up. That was difficult, when I knew I needed to do another take. After two takes we couldn’t film anymore. We were all emotionally exhausted. Definitely a tough day on set.

Marvel or DC? Do you have a favourite superhero? Did you channel any superhero when directing Supa Modo?

Well, I will not pick any side because I hope to work with either of those comic houses in future, haha. There was no specific hero I attached to when filming. For me, it was the spirit of what it means to be a hero that I channelled throughout the filming.

Given a chance to work with Lupita, which type of movie would you create?

I am not sure if working with her or anyone else will change how or why I create the stories that I do, but I am sure both of us can come up with something unique.

Supa Modo didn’t have as much time in the theatres as it should have. Now that it’s streaming on Showmax, can you comment on the opportunities that streaming services provide to content-makers in Africa?

We had about 12 weeks at the cinema, not a small feat. And still with all those weeks, there was still a large number of Kenyans who hadn’t watched the film. The good thing about streaming platforms is that it gives us filmmakers a larger reach with our films. I heard some people even watching Supa Modo on their phones on the go. Now, that is so awesome.

Where is Likarion Wainaina’s imagination taking us next?

Well, I can’t go into details – but some projects are brewing up. The beauty of doing film is that you start off with a simple idea of a drama and next thing you know you have aliens in it… Maybe I’ll do a project about aliens… Oh yeah, definitely maybe.

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