The holiday season is finally upon us and we’ve compiled a list of top South African movies to binge on while you unwind at home with family and friends or on vacation.
I Am All Girls
Written by Wayne Fitzjohn and Marcell Greef, “I Am All Girls” garnered heaps of praises for its captivating storyline.
“I Am All Girls” features the crème de la crème of the South African television and film industry, the likes of Deon Lotz, Hlubi Mboya, Erica Wessels, Masasa Mbangeni, Israel Matseke Zulu, Mothusi Magano and Mampho Brescia.
Directed by Donovan Marsh, this thriller is centred around a relentless detective who discovers she has more in common with a killer than she first thought, after discovering their target is the perpetrators running a powerful child-trafficking ring.
“I Am All Girls” is currently streaming on Netflix.
South Africa’s official entry to the 2021 Oscars, “Toorbos” is an adaptation of Dalene Matthee’s love story about the uprooting of Karoliena Kapp, one of the final forest dwellers in Knysna in the 1930s.
This locally brewed film was nominated for nine SAFTAs, with writer-director Rene van Rooyen winning Best Script and Andries Smit best score.
Elani Dekker, who plays the role of Karoliena was nominated for a 2021 SAFTA for Best Actress, with Variety praising her “fine, quiet” performance.
Screen International describes Toorbos as “a refreshingly unusual and unpredictable period-piece…” while Variety calls the film “a satisfying marriage of folksy period romance and environmental parable from the misty, mossy depths of South Africa’s Knysna forest region: a national beauty spot much enshrined in local literature and lore, but rarely given this kind of grand-scale screen showcase.”
Toorbos is currently available for streaming on Showmax.
Happiness Ever After
The sequel to the 2016 romantic drama “Happiness Is a Four-letter Word,” proved to be an immediate hit with locals, within hours of its release, the star-studded film made the Top 10 in South Africa on Netflix.
Directed by Thabang Moleya and produced by Bongiwe Selane, the sequel follows the journey of three friends as they grapple with relatable issues of relationship stress, parenting, and family tensions in the way that every South African woman understands.
The romantic drama stars fan favourites Khanyi Mbau, Renate Stuurman, and Richard Lukunku reprising their roles as Zaza, Princess and Leo respectively.
They are joined by new cast members Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Yonda Thomas, Daniel Effiong, Loyiso MacDonald, Xolile Tshabalala and Nandi Nyembe, who bring another layer of intrigue to fans who have come to love the Happiness storyline.
Happiness Ever After is currently on Netflix.
“Umakoti Wethu” is the feature film directorial debut of Nozipho Nkelemba, who starred in The Forgotten Kingdom, directed Gomora and wrote Emoyeni.
In “Umakoti Wethu”, multi-award-winning actress Fulu Mugovhani gives a stellar performance as Khathu, a Venda woman struggling to conceive. Khathu finds herself in crisis when her husband’s new job takes them back to KwaZulu-Natal, where an old flame is ignited.
Melusi Mbele co-stars as her husband Sizwe, with rising star Kwanele Mthethwa delivering a breakthrough performance as Nobuhle, the woman caught in the middle of this polygamous love triangle with a twist. Duduzile Ngcobo also features as Khathu’s disapproving mother-in-law.
“Umakoti Wethu” is currently streaming on Showmax.
Unable to afford to bury their “gogo”, Vele and her hot-headed younger brother become amateur kidnappers on Christmas Day, taking a government minister hostage in exchange for ransom money that they want to use to be able to celebrate her life and give her a fitting farewell.
Directed by Black Brain Films co-founder Mandla N, this multilingual comedy stars SAFTA winners Zola Nombona (Lockdown) and Hamilton Dlamini as well as S’thandiwe Kgoroge and newcomer Phumlani Magadla.
“Boxing Day” premiers on Showmax on December 23.
Asseblief & Dankie
A homeless woman saves the life of a wealthy CEO, and in an unusual moment of Christmas spirit, he invites her to recover in his luxury penthouse. He laughs off her claims to be from another world – until his own starts tipping over.
Directed by Tertius Kapp this Afrikaans comedy stars Laudo Liebenberg, Crystal-Donna Roberts, Jill Levenberg, Cintaine Schutte and Carel Nel.
“Asseblief & Dankie” premiers on Showmax on Christmas Day
A Safe Bet
Pearl is the most sought after attorney in the country at the cost of her love life. When her boyfriend dumps her just as the Christmas family gathering is around the corner, Pearl’s increasingly impatient mother drags her to church for some divine intervention.
She receives a life-changing prophecy about who she’ll find her happily ever after with: a man with the surname Dlamini. But will Pearl follow her heart or the prophecy?
A Safe Bet’s stellar cast is led by actress, fashion designer and businesswoman Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa with Jerry Mofokeng’s son, actor and musician Lerato Makhetha, Cedric Fourie and SAFTA winner Charmaine Mtinta.
“A Safe Bet” is directed by Weldun Media and executive produced by Kgosana Monchusi.