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Keeping its promise to release more African content, Netflix ’s South African series, Jiva , is finally set to debut on the streaming platform.  South African culture and society take center stage in Netflix’s ‘Jiva’, a drama series centered on aspiring street dancer Ntombi. Juggling between family obligations, a dead-end job, and a less-than-ideal love life, she realizes that her talents may be her way out of Durban. Ntombi cobbles together her dance crew, The Trollies, with her sights set on winning a lucrative cash prize at the Jiva Loxion dance competition. Of course, there are obstacles and conflicts on the path to success.

Netflix’s ‘Jiva’ might be a derivative of Jaiva or township jive, an African dance form and music subgenre believed to have influenced Western breakdancing. It is closely associated with the development of the rhythmical Zulu music style of Southern Africa, mbaqanga. But it is also affiliated with contemporary trends due to the homogenization of the artform in the US and the UK that makes the dance style seem watered-down and less traditional. Whatever its origin, Jiva speaks to the broad appeal of dance not just in South Africa but globally.

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“It will resonate with people because dance is just so much a part of our lives in South Africa and it resonates all over the world,” said showrunner Busisiwe Ntintili in an interview. “We dance at funerals and weddings. We dance when we graduate. At good and bad times, we dance. It is a joyful reminder, especially in these times where we didn’t expect this to happen; it’s a reminder that there is still joy to be had in life.”

The story is a work of fiction but is rooted in real-world issues. The Netflix original is a glimpse into modern African youth culture and but also addresses the challenges and resistance that women worldwide face in pursuit of their ambitions. At its core, this is a story of humanity that many can identify with irrespective of nationality. Ntintili hopes that this common thread will pique interest in more programming from the continent.

“Global audiences are hungry for African content. For a long time, they never saw it. Before we had streaming platforms, you only got to see what was broadcast in your country. People in America and Asia never saw any African content. There is a hunger for seeing how people in the rest of the world live.”

All five episodes of Jiva are streaming now on Netflix.

 

 

Calling all food enthusiasts, especially those who love learning about the impact Black and African food ways made on the cuisine in the United States. Netflix will soon release a new 4-part docuseries, High on the Hog, celebrating and highlighting the culinary contributions of Black and African people, and how we shaped American cuisine as a whole.

The series, set to release May 26, is hosted by popular Black food writer Stephan Satterfield who takes viewers on a multi-continent journey of how our food traditions actually reached the United States, and how some cities are still holding on to said traditions.

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According to a press release, the series takes viewers on a culinary journey that ventures from Africa to the deep south. The immersive four-episode docu-series  part culinary show, part travelogue  follows food writer Stephen Satterfield as he meets the chefs, historians, and activists who are keeping centuries-old traditions alive. Over Western African stews, soul food, barbecue, and fine dining, the series, directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, reveals an expansive, eclectic culinary history shaped by slavery, the Civil War, Juneteenth, and present day. It’s a story of Black America’s resilience, enduring creativity, and vital contribution to America’s kitchen.

“It’s the story of Black people in America. It all feels very much part of the racial reckoning going on in America and the world right now. Reclaiming our contribution to this country is also about reclaiming our culinary contribution. Because what is food? It brings people together,” Director Roger Ross Williams said.

An adaption of the book penned by food historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris, each episode of High On The Hog travels to destinations like Benin and Charleston, South Carolina, while unpacking the deep connection of enslavement and the way in which we as Black/African Americans eat— ultimately laying out the map of how certain culinary customs appeared in US culture.

“It’s bringing context to food history and the resilience, artistry, and impact that African Americans have had on the American kitchen. Food is a great connector, the more that people can come together and break bread, the more we can celebrate our commonalities as opposed to our differences’ Executive Producer Adrienne Tobak said in a statement.

Watch the trailer below:

 

Netflix has reportedly cited filming challenges that have been brought on by the pandemic as the reason for their decision to cancel the second season of the spy-thriller series, ‘Queen Sono’

According to The Citizen, Netflix has decided that Africa’s first Original Series, Queen Sono, will not go ahead for a second season. This comes after initial reports in April of this year that Queen Sono had been given the thumbs-up for a second season. Speculations on the possible reasons for halting the show vary, according to IOL. However, Netflix cited difficulties in filming due to challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queen Sono lead, Pearl Thusi, released a bittersweet statement to The Citizen in response to the news.

“It’s so incredible that we as a team got a lifetime opportunity to make history together as there will never be another ‘first’ African Netflix original series. I’m proud of the work we did, but everything happens for a reason. I am excited about what the future holds.”

The Netflix team reportedly stated that axing the show was a difficult decision because of the “dream vision” achieved through the show. According to The Citizen, Netflix’ spokesperson thanked Queen Sonofans from around the world for their continued and fervent support of the production. Furthermore, Queen Sono creator, Kagiso Lediga, commented on the recent news saying, “We wrote a beautiful story that spanned the continent but unfortunately could not be executed in these current trying times.”

Queen Sono is the first Netflix African Original Series to come out this year. The series follows an action-packed story about a South African spy played by Thusi.

Queen Sono is one of many productions to be halted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira’s Americanah series was recently cancelled by HBO Max before it went into production. South Africans, however, can still look forward to the second season of popular Netflix Original Series, Blood and Water

“It’s so incredible that we as a team got a lifetime opportunity to make history together as there will never be another ‘first’ African Netflix original series. I’m proud of the work we did, but everything happens for a reason. I am excited about what the future holds.”

Netflix ‘Made By Africans, For The World’- An ode to the richness, brilliance and creativity of African storytelling and its storytellers.

The Netflix team reportedly stated that axing the show was a difficult decision because of the “dream vision” achieved through the show. According to The Citizen, Netflix’ spokesperson thanked Queen Sonofans from around the world for their continued and fervent support of the production. Furthermore, Queen Sono creator, Kagiso Lediga, commented on the recent news saying, “We wrote a beautiful story that spanned the continent but unfortunately could not be executed in these current trying times.”

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in the serenity of Jos Plateau. Beautiful mountains. No ethnic divide. As pupils and students we lived on mangoes, tomatoes, oranges, guava, raw sweet potatoes and carrots. We were never hungry because Jos Plateau people had a philosophy that as long you’re entering a farm to source for what you will eat, it was not trespassing.

Jos is also hugely cosmopolitan as a result of the tin mining that occurred during colonial times so

It seems as if a new audience is about to get introduced to Nollywood. What would you like them to know?

The Nigerian film industry is huge and have been serving audiences with compelling stories since the birth of what we now know as Nollywood. I’d like people to know that the industry is getting bigger and better and apart from the big feel-good films we are serving the world, there are other filmmakers they should research and look out for their films. Filmmakers like Abba Makama (Green White Green, The Lost Okoroshi), Nodash Adekunle (The Delivery Boy), CJ Obasi (Hello, Rain), Ishaya Bako (4th Republic), etc, are making enthralling alternative cinema.

When and how did making movies become an integral part of your life?

I was still in film school when I made the short film Mummy Lagos, which is probably Nigeria’s only entry into the Berlinale Talent Campus. That was 2006. The film was such a hit at the festival that a writing mentor asked me if I wanted to work with the BBC. They were coming into West Africa for a big-budget series. This was Wetin Dey.

He linked me up with the iconic John Akomfrah and David Lawson of Smoking Dogs. I had an interview, they saw my sample and that was that. I got into the industry after working on such an important series.

In 2010, as greenhorn filmmakers without a real producer, we applied for the Hubert Bals Fund film grant from theNetherlands and got a digital production grant to make Confusion Na Wa.

The film went on to win Best Film at the AMAAs in 2013 as well as the Jury Prize at the prestigious Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. As I mentioned earlier, it was one of the very first films from Nigeria to be picked up by Netflix and was a reference point for modern African studies in some American universities. Making that film was important to my growth as a filmmaker.

How long have you been directing for?

I started working professionally since 2006 on BBC’s Wetin Dey. I shot my first film in 2010 with funding from Hubert Bals Fund of International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film was not released until 2013 where it went on to win Best Film and Best Nigerian at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards, the biggest accolade for our homegrown cinema. It also won 2014 Jury Prize at the Pan African Film Festival in LA. So directing for me has been for 14 years now but I have only three released films- Confusion Na Wa, The Lost Café and Oloture.

What has been the general reaction to your new film “Oloture” in Nigeria?

Released worldwide on Netflix on the 2nd of October 2020, Oloture became Nigeria’s first major international crossover film, consistently staying in the top 10 of diverse countries like France, Brazil, Iceland, Oman, Israel, Kenya, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Jamaica and over two dozen countries. After a few days of release, it peaked at number 7 worldwide on the planets biggest streaming platform. Such a incredible attention for an African film.

The reaction in Nigeria has equally been massive. Oloture was number 1 for two consecutive weeks! Most people who saw the film recommended it to their friends and also came on social media to talk about sex trafficking and how Nigeria and the international community should take the issue serious. It has been one of Nigeria’s most talked about films, ever.

 

Is it a true-life story? What propelled you to bring attention to that specific story?

Yes it is loosely based on a true life story inspired by a premium times report and as it is written at the end of the film, other investigative journalists around the world as well.

What would you like viewers to take away from this film?

The international menace of sex trafficking is still huge out there and we need people to channel the anger of how the film ends towards policy makers who have the power to raise awareness and also protect these ladies.

John Boyega has sign a deal with Netflix to produce a slate of non-English language films focusing on West and East Africa

The impact of Netflix on African Filmmaking?

In 2016, Reed Hastings said the most exciting thing about global Netflix is finding local storytellers and giving them a platform. That’s it. We now have a platform to showcase authentic African stories to millions beyond the continent as is the case with Oloture.

 

What would you say are the biggest triumphs and challenges of the Nigerian film industry?

The Nigerian film industry is a huge global phenomenon and we continue to make giant strides internationally but we have our challenges especially filmmakers who are pushing to tell compelling third cinema stories.

The irony, is sometimes I have to go all the way to Europe to source for money to make a movie because there isn’t a funding body here..

Confusion Na Wa got funding from Netherlands. The Lost Café, produced by Regina Udalor, had support from Norway and France. I have been clamouring for a National Endowment Fund for Arts, an independent federal agency that will fund, promote and strengthen the capacity of artistes by providing opportunities in Artsparticipation.

Investing one naira in the intellectual development of a Nigerian could augment the national revenue more than one naira invested in another field. Many countries provide that opportunity for their filmmakers and I think Nigeria needs to look at that model.

Are there any filmmakers who have particularly influenced your work?

Diverse filmmakers have inspired me but the works of Gaston Kabore, the late Idrissa Ouedraogo, Abderrahmane Sissako, Fernando Meireless and Alfonso Cuaron greatly appeal to me.

What are some of your Favorite African films?

I love Gaston Kabore’s Wend Kuuni and  Buud Yam, Djo Munga’s Viva Riva, Fernando Meireles’ City of God, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and a host of other third cinema films.

 

Today, the South African Screen Federation (SASFED), supported by the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), announced the establishment of a COVID-19 Film and Television Relief Fund in collaboration with Netflix to provide emergency relief to the hardest-hit workers in South Africa’s creative community.

The streaming service will donate over R8.3 million, which will be administered by Tshikululu Social Investment, who will screen the applications for eligibility as well as payout the funds to beneficiaries

“SASFED is delighted about the announcement that the Netflix Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund will provide relief for workers in the screen sector that were not eligible for other available relief funds. The SA economy has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, said SASFED executive director, Unathi Malunga.

“The Netflix fund supporting the local film industry brings hope to struggling industry professionals. We hope other potential partners will follow Netflix’s example and support SASFED’s broader initiatives which offer assistance to industry professionals across the whole value chain – an initiative undertaken by industry, for the industry. SASFED applauds Netflix’ support of the local screen sector during the global crisis.”

Sisanda Henna, IPO co-Chairperson said: “Following months of extreme hardship for most of our sector, the IPO is overjoyed that Netflix is providing this desperately-needed relief for those most hard hit by the pandemic – the industry’s below-the-line freelancers to whom no other relief has been available.

Netflix ‘Made By Africans, For The World’- An ode to the richness, brilliance and creativity of African storytelling and its storytellers.

“This is a clear demonstration of Netflix’s commitment to the sustainability of the South African film and TV production industry, and we welcome them – with wide open arms – as a partner in our broader efforts to support the screen sector.”

From 3 August the members of the creative community will be able to apply by filling out an online application at Tshikululu’s website (tshikululu.org.za) or mailing physical applications. The eligibility criteria will be posted on the website when applications open.

The South African TV and film community has been dealing with the effects this pandemic has caused to their livelihoods because of the continuous disruptions to local productions. Thank you to SASFED, with the support of IPO, for collaborating with us in our efforts to provide short-term relief to the hardest-hit workers from the local creative industry, who most need our support in these unprecedented times.
Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix’s lead for African Originals

In March, Netflix announced a $100 million hardship fund to help the hardest-hit workers in the creative community across the world affected by the pandemic, which has since been increased to $150 million. The R8,3 million contribution in South Africa is part of this initiative

 

Netflix has launched its Made by Africans, Watched by the World campaign, which showcases talent from across the continent involved in Netflix’s African Originals.

The company released a video featuring local stars, including Pearl Thusi (who starred as Queen Sono in the Netflix Original of the same name) and Ama Qamata (from South African Original Blood & Water). On a not so normal Monday in Johannesburg, Netflix gathered 18 eclectic creatives from across the continent to speak to and celebrate their stories currently on, and soon to be on the streaming platform in a moment captured on film, entitled, ‘Made By Africans, Watched By The World’. These visionaries and storytellers, who have been at the forefront of African content on Netflix.

“Our aim at Netflix is to have stories that are made by Africans to be watched by the world. We are focused on giving our consumers in Africa, and globally, authentic African content. Having all of these incredible voices in the same room, and on the same platform going forward, is something to celebrate,” Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Originals for Netflix, said in a statement.

“We’ve always had our stories told by others from the outside-in but this time, we get to tell our own stories from the inside-out,” she adds.

Ghettuba is a Kenyan filmmaker. Before her position at Netflix, she was the CEO of Spielworks Media — a media production company based in Nairobi.

Netflix 'made in africa, watched by the world
Nao Serati, owner of NAOSERATI, a brand that specializes in unisex garments that explore the margins of gender, was tasked with the job of translating the importance of African creative stories through fashion for the campaign. “With some of the best African talent in one room coming together to celebrate African creativity, we knew we had to put African fashion at the forefront. To remain true to the messaging, we wanted to work with talented designers from the various countries where each of the creatives are from, ensuring we were being as authentic as possible. The direction for the styling had to be glamorous, fresh and rooted in Africa. Each of the creatives featured in this collaboration is so beautiful and dynamic that creating looks for each individual was a surreal experience,” said Serati.
Expressing his excitement to work with fellow creatives, Serati added “we as Africa are a world of our own. We tell stories through our craft. I was so inspired, as a designer myself, researching every country and its designers. I saw all the obstacles some of these designers had to overcome and I am humbled by the fact that they still see the beauty in our world and create the most moving work. We collaborated with each artist to ensure that each story worked and that they came together beautifully. Once the final firework went off, it was a defining moment for all of us”.
Netflix 'Made in Africa, Watched by the world
South African star of Catching Feelings and Queen Sono, Pearl Thusi, was dressed by Nao Serati and spoke enthusiastically about Netflix’s investment in the African continent. “Africa is so intriguing to the rest of the world as there really is nothing like the beat of the African drum. It resonates with everyone,” said Thusi. The writer of Mama K’s Team 4,  Malenga Mulendema of Zambia was dressed by Viviers and said, “like any other storyteller across the globe, we are just trying to tell our stories and explore our lives and communities that we live in, so it’s incredible that Netflix gave us a voice to do so globally”. Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian all-round creative, dressed by Andrea Iyamah, echoed this statement and said “It’s a good thing, especially for upcoming artists who want a chance. We have so many more stories to tell in this part of the world.’’

If you want to browse African content on Netflix, simply search for “Made in Africa”. This will bring up content that the streaming service has licensed from African creators, as well as African Originals.

If you can stay home during the coronavirus crisis, you should. But what should you watch while you’re stuck inside? If you’re looking for a distraction from the world or just something to put on in the background while you keep checking the news, we’ve got  suggestions for TV comfort food.  Here are shows that we’re watching ourselves right now.

It’s time to grab a snack, call Bae and get cozy for a mandatory binge-watching TV sesh. (Note: A break from the news is bueno for your mental health.

Source: Essence

 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, John Boyega and his UpperRoom Productions have signed a deal with Netflix to develop non- English films focusing on West and East Africa.

Netflix says that UpperRoom “will develop film projects based on stories, cast, characters, crew, literary properties, mythology, screenplays and or other elements in or around African Countries.

Boyega, whose family is from Nigeria, Said in a statement that he’s thrilled to be working with Netflix on this, especially with the idea of making non-English films that adapt African stories and original material.

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Recently, Netflix has made an effort to prioritise original content from Africa. Netflix shared its plans to offer more African shows back in 2018. Its latest African original, Queen Sono, dropped worldwide at the end of February, while another as-yet unnamed series set in Nigeria was announced at the same time. Meanwhile, two further originals, South African teen drama Blood & Water and animated series Mama K’s Team 4 are set to land later this year.

Speaking to Variety, vice president of international film at Netflix, David Kosse, said, “Africa has a rich history in storytelling, and for Netflix, this partnership with John and UpperRoom presents an opportunity to further our investment in the continent while bringing unique African stories to our members both in Africa and around the world.” Estimates suggest that subscriber figures for Africa are currently low, but Nollywood is a multi-billion dollar industry, so the potential for Netflix’s growth in Africa as a whole is huge.