The best African movies and series to binge on Showmax this December

The Wife Showmax
A scene from "The Wife." Image credit: Showmax

December us upon us once again – and with it plenty of time to binge on the best movies and series available on streaming platforms such as Showmax.

In this article, we have compiled some of the best African content in case you wish to sample what the continent has to offer.

Best African movies and series on Showmax

Troukoors (Wedding Fever) S1

Troukoors (Wedding Fever), the first Showmax Original romcom, is available to binge from 13 December 2021. It is made by SAFTA winner Louis Pretorius and SAFTA nominee Albert Snyman of Infinity Films, the creators of critically acclaimed and much-loved shows like Die Boekklub and Fynskrif, with regular collaborator Nina Swart directing.

Troukoors is like like Younger or The Bold Type, but set against the splendour and romance of the Cape wedding industry,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax.

Ilse-Lee van Niekerk (Getroud Met Rugby4 MureDie Boekklub) stars as Jessica, a wedding planner who’s surrounded by love but struggling to find it for herself. Other stars in the cast include Blyde Smit (Erfsondes7de Laan) and Fleur du Cap nominee Bianca Flanders (Nêrens, Noord-KaapAddress Unknown).

The Wife S1

Showmax’s first telenovela, The Wife, has broken Uthando Lodumo’s record for the most first-day views of all time on Showmax, as well as Devilsdorp’s record for the most hours watched within four days of launch, outperforming the launch of any film or series on Showmax ever, including the likes of Game of Thrones, The Real Housewives of Durban and The River

Inspired by Dudu Busani-Dube’s bestseller Hlomu The Wife, the 40-episode first season tells the story of a journalist (Mbalenhle Mavimbela from Skeem Saam) who falls in love with a taxi driver, Mqhele (Bonko Khoza from Neckie Youth), not realising that when you marry a man, you marry his secrets.

You can watch The Wife‘s trailer on YouTube here. Episodes 1-12 are available to binge on Showmax, with three new episodes dropping every Thursday.

Love, Lies & Hybrids

Jessica and her lover, Sophia, look forward to a mountain escape for a few days before New Year’s Day, while Jessica’s environmental activist fiancé, Daniel, is away at a conference. So when Daniel arrives to surprise Jessica, he is the one that gets a surprise. Now, with the truth revealed about Jessica’s infidelity, is there a way to save their relationship or will this be the last time the three of them are together?

Directed by two-time SAFTA winner Amanda Lane (iEmmy nominee Is’thunzi), Love, Lies & Hybrids stars Megan Oberholzer (Cut-Out Girls) as Jessica, Shamilla Miller (The Girl From St AgnesBlood & Water) as Sophia and Alexander Maniatis (Projek Dina) as Daniel. You can stream it from 31 December 2021. For now, here’s the trailer.

Temptation Island South Africa

Temptation Island South Africa, Showmax’s first international reality TV series format, puts a local spin on Banijay’s Teen Choice-nominated pop culture phenomenon. The hit reality series topped both Showmax’s Top 20 and the Twitter trends’ charts in South Africa during its weekly release, and is now available to binge.

The ultimate relationship test, Temptation Island South Africa follows couples at a crossroads in their relationship, where they must mutually decide if they are ready to commit to one another for the rest of their lives — or go their separate ways. 

Influence

Who decides what you think? Who decides how you vote? Diana Neille and Richard Poplak’s globe-trotting documentary feature Influence charts the recent advancements in weaponised communication by investigating Lord Tim Bell and the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm: the British multinational, Bell Pottinger – whose South African clients included the Guptas, FW de Klerk and Oscar Pistorius.  

A South African/Canadian co-production, Influence was nominated for a 2021 Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for Best Political Documentary, screened in competition at Sundance, and was named Best South African Documentary at the 2020 Durban International Film Festival, among other accolades. Watch the trailer on YouTube here.

Black Tax S2

With six SAFTA nominations (including for Best Comedy) and a win for Best Scriptwriting, the popular BET Africa-Showmax co-production Black Tax is back for a second season of laugh-out-loud hilarity as career woman and single mom Thuli Dlamini tries to keep up with paying her dues to her family, who supported her journey to success. 

SAFTA winner Jo-Anne Reyneke (Broken Vows, Isono) returns as Thuli, with Mandla Jwara (Isithembiso) nominated for Best Actor at the 2021 SAFTAs as her father. Industry legend Clementine Mosimane, a 2020 SAFTA winner for Poppie Nongena and 2021 nominee for How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding, plays her mother, while comedians Sne Dladla and Jason Goliath also star. 

New faces this season include five-time SAFTA nominee Motlatsi Mafatshe (How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding) and newcomer Asante Mabuza as the meddlesome new neighbours of Thuli and her crazy family. Acting legend Owen Sejake (TsotsiBeat the Drum, Yizo Yizo) also joins the cast. 

The Edge of Existence

Filmed in Tanzania over three years, The Edge of Existence takes viewers into the heart of the growing human-wildlife conflict in the western corridor of the Serengeti. 

Named Best Humans and Nature Film at the 2020 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, The Edge of Existence is directed by South Africans James Suter and Charlie Luckock of Black Bean Productions. The documentary also won Best Documentary at the 2021 Bergen International Film Festival. 

Toorbos

South Africa’s official entry to the 2021 Oscars, Toorbos is an adaptation of the beloved Dalene Matthee love story about the uprooting of Karoliena Kapp, one of the final forest dwellers in Knysna in the 1930s. 

As Karoliena, Elani Dekker was nominated for a 2021 SAFTA for Best Actress, with Variety praising her “fine, quiet” performance and comparing her “guileless poise” to a “younger Keira Knightley” and Screen International saying the film is “built around” her “luminous and intriguing central performance.” Toorbos was nominated for nine SAFTAs, with writer-director Rene van Rooyen winning Best Script and Andries Smit best score. 

Subira

Set in Lamu and Nairobi, Subira is a coming-of-age story that follows Brenda Wairimu (Monica, Disconnect) in the titular role as a free-spirited Muslim girl who struggles against traditions and gender stereotypes to live out her dream of swimming in the ocean.

From a young age, all Subira has ever wanted was to learn how to dive in the ocean. And her fisherman father (Abubakar Mwenda, Nairobi Half Life, Mission to Rescue) is willing to teach her when the right time comes, much to the disapproval of her mother (Nice Githinji, Rafiki, Lusala), who, like others in their conservative Lamu community, prepare their daughters for only one thing – to be married to a good man from a good family.

Subira was also selected to represent Kenya in the International Feature category at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020, won Best Indigenous Language Movie – Swahili at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, and took home five Kalasha Awards in 2018, including Best Feature, Best Director and Best Actress.

The Coolest OG’s

Local reality TV hit The Coolest OG’s was shortlisted for Competition Show of the Year at the 2021 Content Innovation Awards in London.

The show sees 12 senior citizens compete for the title of hippest “golden oldie.” Each episode introduces a new challenge, ranging from gaming to songwriting, music video production to modelling, art to acting and more – activities that might be second nature to millennials and zoomers (the Gen Z crowd), but could give an older person pause.

With the help of their grandchildren and influencers, the seniors battle it out, with someone being forced into early retirement every episode, until only one – the ultimate Coolest OG – remains, taking home a cash prize of R100,000. The judges – who look at both performance and swag – are a panel of four 20-somethings making waves in the fashion, music, film and food industries.

Harvest: 3000 Years

Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima has been named the first recipient of the Academy Museum of Motion Picture’s Vantage Award for “an artist or scholar who has helped to contextualise and challenge dominant narratives around cinema.”

The 1975 classic, Harvest: 3000 Years is Gerima’s second fiction film, which played at Cannes to acclaim and won two prizes at Locarno.

“Inspired to make a film in his mother tongue, Amharic, after seeing Ousmane Sembène’s Borom Sarret (1963), Harvest: 3000 Years turns away from the cityscapes of Bush Mama for a more expansive setting. In rural Ethiopia, a greedy landowner exploits the peasants who tend his property, commanding them from the shade of his veranda. But a griot challenges the social order and slowly an awakening occurs among the suffering workers,” says the Academy, calling the film “elliptical and epic.”

Umakoti Wethu

In Umakoti Wethu, SAFTA and Africa Movie Academy Award Best Actress winner Fulu Mugovhani gives another prize-worthy performance as Khathu, a Venda woman struggling to conceive, who finds herself in crisis when her Zulu husband’s new job takes them back to KwaZulu-Natal, his overbearing mother, and his old flame.  

SAFTA nominee Melusi Mbele (Isibaya) co-stars in this movie as her husband Sizwe, with rising star Kwanele Mthethwa (Isithembiso, Abomama S2) delivering a breakthrough performance as Nobuhle, the woman caught in the middle of this polygamous love triangle with a twist. Duduzile Ngcobo (Durban GeneHostelaUzalo) also features as Khathu’s disapproving mother-in-law. 

New movies and series on Showmax this December include the Gossip Girl reboot and a new season of the critically-acclaimed What We Do In The Shadows; the 2021 Golden Globe nominee The Personal History of David Copperfield; and the Guy Ritchie-Jason Statham action blockbuster Wrath of Man, among others. The full list is available here.

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