May is known as Africa Month as Africans celebrate their unique and diverse cultures across the continent. For many, it is also a time to catch up on African entertainment, often on streaming platforms such as Showmax.
Here are four award-winning and record-breaking films and a reality TV show to check out on Showmax if you’re looking for such content.
Africa and I
Winner of the Jury Award for Best First Feature Documentary at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival earlier this month, Africa and I is a 90-minute documentary about how 20-year-old Othmane Zolati walked, hitchhiked, cycled and skateboarded over 30,000 km across Africa, through 24 countries. He had never left Morocco when he started his nearly four-year journey to Cape Town, South Africa with just $80, a small backpack and a borrowed cheap pocket camera.
Saturday Star calls Africa and I “an unrivalled glimpse into life on the continent,” Vamers “a thrilling trip through unseen Africa,” and Spling “exhilarating… a beautiful and stirring mashup of people, culture and places.”
Along the journey he survived three bouts of malaria; tried to escape border police on a skateboard; got lost for five days in a desert without enough water; was stopped in the middle of a no man’s land by a group of people with guns; and ended up in Zambia with only $5 in his pocket. But for every near-death experience, there were many more moments of marvelling at the beauty and diversity of Africa, not to mention the kindness and generosity of her people.
Othmane directs and executive produces Africa and I, using the hundreds of hours of footage he taught himself to shoot along the way. He’s collaborated with a team of award-winning South African creatives he met at the end of his trip: co-director Chris Green (writer and producer on the 2021 SAFTA winner Chasing the Sun and co-showrunner of the two-time International Emmy-nominated MasterChef South Africa); Both Worlds, the production company behind the two-time International Emmy-nominated Puppet Nation ZA; and composer Daniel Eppel and editor Kirsten de Magalhaes, both SAFTA winners.
Directed by Sam Soko, Softie follows Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi as he tries his hands at politics for the first time in the 2017 elections and finds himself torn between his duty to his country and his family.
Softie has a 92% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has won five international awards, including a Special Jury Award for Editing at Sundance, with Boniface named one of The Unforgettables by Cinema Eye last year. Softie was also nominated for International Documentary Association, News and Documentary Emmy, and Producers Guild of America awards in 2021.
Softie‘s fans include Kenyan Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who tweeted, “As the child of a political activist who witnessed their father being harassed and injured, who wondered when and if he would come home at night, the documentary Softie moved me… It is the incredible story about the activist Boniface Mwangi and his journey to uncover the truth behind Kenya’s disheartening politics and corrupt system. If you believe in governments for the people, by the people and of the people, this film is for you.”
The Real Housewives of Lagos
The Real Housewives of Lagos set a new record for the most first-day views on Showmax in Nigeria after trending at #1 on Twitter in both Nigeria and South Africa.
The latest edition of the hit reality TV show franchise follows the opulent lives of six of the most glamorous women in Africa’s largest megacity: businesswoman Carolyna Hutchings, lawyer and luxury hair brand owner Chioma Ikokwu, Nollywood actress Iyabo Ojo, influencer Laura Ikeji-Kanu, PR expert Mariam Timmer, and celebrity stylist Toyin Lawani-Adebayo. In true Lagos style, they will be serving up all the high fashion, luxury, drama, and power-moves that the franchise is known and loved for globally.
The Africa Report calls it “must-see television,” while Pulse says it’s changing the representation of Africa: “Gone with the third world version and in with shots portraying a version of Africa that Africans didn’t know we needed.”
This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection
Produced by Urucu (The Wound | Inxeba), This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection stars the late, great Mary Twala Mhlongo (Black Is King) in her final film role as an 80-year-old widow in Lesotho who ignites a collective spirit of defiance within her community when her village is threatened with forced removals due to the construction of a reservoir. Triple SAFTA winner Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha (Tsotsi, Five Fingers For Marseilles) narrates, while Makhaola Ndebele (The River) co-stars.
This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection ended 2021 at #6 on MetaCritic’s list of the best reviewed films of the year globally. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s film also cracked many of the most prestigious Top 10 Films of 2021 lists, placing second on Vulture, third on Slant, fourth on LA Weekly, sixth on RogerEbert.com, seventh on AV Club, and ninth on Paste and The Playlist – not to mention making Vanity Fair’s list of the 21 Most Underrated Movies of 2021 and The Film Stage’s list of The Best Cinematography of 2021.
The film has won over 33 international awards, including the Visionary Filmmaking Prize at Sundance 2020, the FIPRESCI Critics’ Prize at Hong Kong 2020, the Artistic Bravery Prize at Durban 2020, Best Cinematography at the African Movie Academy Awards 2020 and FESPACO 2021 for Pierre de Villiers, and the Silver Tanit for Best Film at Carthage 2021.
Released in the United States last year as part of The Criterion Collection, This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Vulture hailed it as “the first masterpiece of 2021… So gorgeous and spellbinding that it invites repeat viewings.” The Playlist called it one of those films that “reinvigorates one’s faith in the artistic capacity of an entire medium.” RogerEbert.com praised it as “a challenge to conventional Western film language… a welcome and necessary one.” Slant called it “Breathtaking,” Paste “extraordinary” and Rolling Stone “a revelation.”