Inxeba | The Wound, directed by John Trengove
Premise: Xolani, a lonely factory worker, joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best-kept secret, Xolani’s entire existence begins to unravel.
Why you should watch: 1. The Wound is one of the most talked-about South African movies of the last decade. Local cinemas were forced to cancel screenings after death threats and protests about its depiction of the secret Xhosa initiation ritual, then the Film and Publications Board Tribunal reclassified it as porn (it’s not) after complaints from traditionalists, essentially banning it from mainstream cinemas. The classification was later overturned in the North Gauteng High Court. 2. Nakhane as Xolani. Your favourite singer will become your new favourite actor. As AVClub wrote, the film has “a potent weapon in [Nakhane], whose superb, deeply internalized performance manages to suggest wellsprings of longing concealed by a scrim of perpetual wariness.” 3. I-D Magazine called it “the most important LGBT film you will see in 2018… through the character of Xolani we are introduced to a world where homosexuality is still simply not an option.” The excessive protests against the film laid bare the rampant homophobia that remains in parts of South Africa.
Accolades: 1. Oscar-shortlisted, 2018. 2. Winner of 28 international awards. 3. 90% critics rating, Rotten Tomatoes. 4. Included in The Guardian’s list of the best movies of 2018 so far.
Five Fingers For Marseilles, directed by Michael Matthews
Premise: Twenty years ago, the young “Five Fingers” fought for the rural town of Marseilles against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, freedom-fighter-turned-outlaw Tau returns to Marseilles, seeking a peaceful pastoral life. When he finds the town under a new threat, he reluctantly fights to free it. Can he free himself from his past? Will the Five Fingers stand again?
Why you should watch: 1. The Wall Street Journal suggested it could be the Western genre’s Black Panther. 2. Variety called it “almost too entertaining for its own good.” 3. Every Western should be filmed in the Eastern Cape from now on; it’s gorgeous. 4. As Tau, Vuyo Dabula is “terrific,” to quote The Los Angeles Times 5. It catapulted writer Sean Drummond and director Michael Matthews into Hollywood, where they’re now repped by William Morris, with Matthews set to direct Monster Problems, starring Dylan O’Brien (Maze Runner, Teen Wolf) for Paramount Players.
Accolades: The most awarded film at the 2018 Africa Movie Academy Awards, where it won five prizes, including Best Film.
Other recent South African highlights to stream on Showmax include:
• The 2018 Silwerskerm short film collection, including Best Short Film – 11 Minutes and Best Director winner Die Leeftyd van ‘n Orgidee, directed by Marì Borstlap; Best Script – 11 Minutes winner Kromkieriefontein, written by Milan Murray; Best Actor and Best Editor winner Cowboy Dan, starring Brendon Daniels and edited by Alexander La Cock; Best Technical winner Benjamin, lensed by Johannes Pieter Nel; and Best Actress winner Fluit Fluit, starring Cindy Swanepoel. Previous Silwerskerm short film winners have been remade into award-winning movies like Nommer 37 and Vuil Wasgoed. Cowboy Dan trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x08OgqAJxbg
- Roberta Durrant’s Krotoa, which won eight international awards and earned Crystal-Donna Roberts the best actress SAFTA for 2018 for her role as a Khoi woman who became an interpreter for Jan van Riebeeck. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARuo-YsVFI4
- Jaco Smit’s Vir Altyd, a Mauritius-set romcom that reunited Pad Na Jou Hart stars Ivan Botha and DonnaLee Roberts in the most successful South African film at the local box office in 2016. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwcQbwm-dQo
- Salmon de Jager’s Free State, about a forbidden love affair between a white woman (Nicola Breytenbach) and an Indian man (Andrew Govender) during apartheid. Winner of the Grand Nile Prize at Luxor African Film Festival 2016. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uvCdg6wnfI
- Quentin Krog’s Vir Die Voels | For The Birds, an Afrikaans romantic comedy that was the third most popular South African film at the box office in 2016 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5uGD5mfsBM
- Gray Hofmeyr’s Schuks! Pay Back The Money, a Leon Schuster comedy that was the most successful South African film at the local box office in 2015. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEjQuLrb-sM
- Jon Savage’s mockumentary Stone Cold Jane Austen, the untold story of South Africa’s most prolific rock ‘n roll band who never got recognised, starring Savage, Rob van Vuuren, Kurt Schoonraad and a who’s-who of the SA music industry. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7XV03lVJjM
- Henk Pretorius’ Leading Lady, starring Katie McGrath (Supergirl), Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal) and Bok van Blerk (Platteland) in a romantic comedy about an English actress preparing to play an Afrikaans war heroine. Leading Lady was the third most popular South African film at the local box office in 2014. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrfNM0MQ4Ac.
- Jenna Bass’ Love The One You Love, about a sex-line operator, a dog handler and a computer technician who begin to suspect that their romantic relationships are the subject of a bizarre conspiracy. Best South African Film, Durban, 2014. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBTXk1LbD9Q
•Safe House, starring two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day) and Golden Globe nominee Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) in a 2012 US box office hit CIA action movie set in Cape Town. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IfQY4fNcnw