Netflix on Tuesday unveiled its slate of African originals, presenting a showcase of local-language series, feature films and non-fiction projects produced in Africa that will roll out across the streamer’s global service later this year and in early 2023.
Highlights include The King’s Horseman, the hotly awaited film adaptation of Noble Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka’s acclaimed anti-colonial play Death and the King’s Horseman. Adapted and directed by Half of a Yellow Sun helmer Biyi Bandele, the Yoruba-language drama will have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
On the series side, Netflix will premiere its first-ever Afrikaans-language drama, Ludik, on Aug. 26. The six-part actioner stars South African-born Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy) in the title role as Daan Ludik. Rob Van Vuuren, Diaan Lawrenson and Zane Meas co-star.
Nigerian actor/director Akin Omotoso will launch The Brave Ones, a supernatural series inspired by African folklore but set in modern-day South Africa, on Netflix Sept. 16. The Brave Ones features actors Sthandile Nkosi, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Bonko Khoza and Tony Kgoroge.
Also set in South Africa is Kings of Queenstown, the story of a young soccer prodigy and his struggles with his washed-up, pro-footballer father and burgeoning career. Jahmil XT Qubeka (Knuckle City) directs, with Zolisa Xaluva starring. Kings of Queenstown premieres on Netflix later this year.
The global streamer has been a pioneer in African production, signing up multi-title agreements with some of the region’s top creators and producers. On Tuesday, Netflix announced a multi-project partnership with acclaimed South African filmmaker Mandlakayise Walter Dube, the director of Silverton Siege, the first African film Netflix commissioned. The streamer already has similar deals in place with Mo Abudu and her Ebonylife Studios (producers of The King’s Horseman), and Kunle Afolayan with his Nigerian film production house KAP. Afolayan’s latest project for Netflix is Anikulapo, a mystical folklore drama, which will bow on the service Sept. 30.
“We believe that Africa is one of the major creative centers for great storytelling that resonates around the world, so it only makes sense for us to increase our investment with our slate with an even more exciting slate,” said Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix’s director of series in Africa. “We’re proud to continue creating global opportunities for the talented creatives of this great continent and sharing their authentic stories with our members in Africa and around the world.”
Earlier this year, Netflix pledged to invest at least $56 million (ZAR 920 million) across four productions in South Africa in 2022-2023: The action series One Piece, the third season of hit teen drama Blood & Water (returning in November), holiday feature How to Ruin Christmas: The Baby Shower, which will premiere Dec. 16, and iNumber Number: Fool’s Gold, a feature sequel to 2017’s hit South African cop show iNumber Number, set to bow early 2023.
Netflix also confirmed it has commissioned a new season of its popular pan-African reality TV show Young Famous and African.
“We are working with top talent and filmmakers as well as exciting emerging voices from the continent. We are thrilled to expand our partnerships with Africa’s talented storytellers,” added Tendeka Matatu, director of local language films in Africa. “With an ever-growing slate of series, movies and licensed content across a rich variety of best-in-class content across genres, we want to give our members more moments to share the joy that comes from being immersed in great stories made in Africa, to be watched by the world.”
Netflix previewed its upcoming African slate with a series of promo reels and first-look images at an event in South Africa on Tuesday.