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Bingeing without borders

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Cable Girls (from Spain), Suburra (from Italy) and Ingobernable (from Spain) have been listed as some of the most binged shows in South Africa; proving that great storytelling transcends borders.

When stories from different countries, languages and cultures find a worldwide platform, where the only limitation is the creator’s imagination, then unique, yet universal, stories emerge that are embraced by a global audience. Access breaks down borders.

This according to Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix, who says the most practical way to bring great content to the world is to make it available to the world.

“That’s why, since 2015, all Netflix Original Content is available in 190 countries globally. When a new title is launched, all 125 million members, from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur, can enjoy it simultaneously – and watch at whatever pace they prefer since most episodes are uploaded at once. By removing the borders of time or geography, Netflix has democratised entertainment and broke the mould on traditional content ‘windows’,” says Sarantos.

Shows such as Dark (Germany) and Black Mirror (UK), acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, have demonstrated that great content has the ability to resonate with consumers locally and globally.

In a showcase in Rome this week, Netflix announced 7 new shows coming to the slate that transcend language and location with the aim of bringing great local stories to a global audience.

○         Netflix’s first Dutch original series, created by production company Pupkin will launch in 2019. In the liberal city of Amsterdam, these Dutch students have it all: youth, wealth, sex, power…and the portal to a demonic world from the Dutch Golden Age they opened by accident.

○         Mortel (France). Mortel tells the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force. The series will be created by Frédéric Garcia and produced by Mandarin Television.

○         The Wave (Germany). The Wave is based on the hit movie THE WAVE and inspired by real events. Produced by Rat Pack in association with Sony Pictures Television Germany.

○         Luna Nera (Italy). An original genre series about women suspected of witchcraft in 17th century Italy, created by Francesca Manieri, Laura Paolucci and Tiziana Triana, and produced by Fandango.

○         La Casa de Papel Part 3 (Spain). After the global success of Part 1 and 2 of the Spanish heist sensation, the Professor will develop new heists that will be unveiled in 2019.

○         The English Game (UK). A six-part drama about the invention of football and how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world’s most popular sport.  Produced by 42 and written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

○         Turn Up Charlie (UK), a new Netflix original comedy series from the UK starring Idris Elba. The eight-part series is executive produced by Idris Elba and Gary Reich.

Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix VP Development, Local Originals summaries their approach to content, “Our strategy is not to make global content. In fact, we’ve seen that when studios try to make ‘global content’ using non-specific cities, generic styles and forced-English language dialogue than it serves no one. At Netflix, we’ve found that the more hyper-local we are then the stories naturally travel on their own because themes emerge that are universal to the human condition. Viewers don’t need to look or sound like a character to relate to them.”

Arts and Entertainment

SA rises as Spotify turns 10

October 2018 marks 10 years since Spotify officially launched its music streaming platform and to celebrate this milestone, Spotify has taken a look at some of its biggest discoveries in music.

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Spotify provided the following information:

The service only launched in South Africa in March this year, so this country is not included in the retrospective, but Spotify supplied Gadget with the following local streaming landmarks:

·         Most streamed South African artist – Jeremy Loops

·         Most streamed female South African artist – Shekhinah

·         Highest first-day streaming record – AKA’s Beyonce

Since launch Spotify now sits at 180 million monthly active listeners across 65 countries. These Spotify users can enjoy a music library of over 40 million songs and podcasts, and over 3 billion-plus user-created playlists. As of 31 August 2018, Spotify has also paid over 10 billion euros to rights holders since launch.

To date, over 2 000 genres of music have been identified on Spotify, among them Wonky (electronic music characterised by synths with unusual time signatures), Shimmer Pop (a Swedish cousin of indie pop and indietronica), and British Blues (the blues…with a British flavour).

Spotify has also done an assessment of “listening diversity,” – the number of artists the average user streams per month – which has risen on Spotify over the past 10 years, at an average of about 8% per year. In the past three years alone, listening diversity increased about 40% on the strength of new personalised and editorial playlists – meaning people are listening to an increased number of artists on a regular basis.

An official Decade of Discovery playlist features the most-streamed songs over the past  decade, including favourites like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” Rihanna’s “Work,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” and the star-studded “Despacito Remix”.

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Festival taps into source code of African identity

The Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival enters its final week from 24 to 29 September with a special focus on gaming and beats. With the theme of “Tap Your Afro Source Code”, this year celebrates technology, creativity and innovation from across the African continent.

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Dr Tegan Bristow, Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival director, says that the theme centres on African visions of technology by tapping into the sources of African tradition and culture alongside technology, creativity and innovation: “This year we are exploring how local culture can move and change the future of technology. How would you understand and unpack the source code of your African identity?”

In its final week, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival explores music culture via the annual Beats Programme curated by WeHeartBeat, which will descend on the Tshimologong Precinct with a six-day takeover of Braamfontein’s tech hub. The program comprising of workshops, experiences and performances, facilitates the meeting of mind and spirit in an environment geared around the festival’s theme, “Tap Your Afro Source Code”.

The Fak’ugesi Beats Lab, running from the 24th to the 28th of September will host international electronic artists and explore the connection between music, technology and culture with local and international artists. The outcome from these sessions will result in an EP release, a short documentary and a live showcase performance at the Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party on the 29th. The artists featured in the 2018 Beats Lab are S.Fidelity (Switzerland), Zikomo (USA), Morena Leraba (Lesotho) and South African artists Bonj Mpanza  and Hlasko.

In partnership with Ballantines Whisky and Business Arts South Africa, the programme includes panels on: ‘The Future of Music’ facilitated by Tefo Mohapi from iAfrikan.com and featuring guest panellists Riky Rick and Thibaut Mullings; ‘Managing Health Amongst Creatives’ featuring psychologist Thembi Mashigo and panel guests Ayanda Seoka, Mx Blouse and more. The day will include a Masterclass with Black Milk (USA), The Art of Remixing with Zikomo(USA) and close with a ‘Power of Collaborations’ session featuring Zikomo, S.Fidelity , Morena Leraba and Bonj Mpanza.

The last week of Fak’ugesi Festival also hosts a special session on the Future of African Gaming on the 28th and 29th of September. A full day on gaming, this will take place in collaboration with Red Bull Basement and focus on the theme of Tech for Good. The programme includes an Indie Games Arcade; a ‘Games for Good’ workshop focused games that address issues in South African urban environment.

The workshop will be followed by a “Futures and Networking” session, inviting the gaming community in the Southern Africa region to contribute to an understanding of what and how the Fak’ugesi Festival can develop and better support African games. This invitation comes after Fak’ugesi Festival in 2018 says farewell to A MAZE. / Johannesburg, which has supported its program since 2013 as the gaming partner.

A MAZE, under the leadership of its creative director, Thorsten S. Wiedemann, linked the Johannesburg gaming scene to an international network of indie developers for six years from 2012 until 2017. The two-way bridge between A MAZE. / Berlin and A MAZE. / Johannesburg inspired other projects like Super Friendship Arcade in Cape Town and Glitch Face in Johannesburg and was a huge impetus in the development of the Game Design programme in the Wits School of Arts. When the Fak’ugesi Festival was established in 2013, A MAZE fell under Fak’ugesi Festival support as the gaming partner. Weidemann added: “It’s been amazing meeting, working and learning from the local and national game and playful media community.  We definitely made history together.”

The week’s activities culminate in a celebration at the Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party   on Saturday 29 September. This event will reignite the energy and spirit created at the inaugural party in a union of performance, music, technology and digital innovation. The Bloc Party aims to showcase the best in underground talent, both local and international – etching its name in the cultural textbooks as an inspiration to future generations of creators, producers and innovators. The second instalment of this ground-breaking event will host performances from the Beats Lab participants, as well as Black Milk and a strong local contingent including Langa Mavuso, Mx Blouse, Symatics + Ramz, and Micr.Pluto.

Tickets for Thursday 27 September are R50 per session and can be purchased via WeHeartBeat. There will be a limited run of R200 student tickets available for Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party, upon presentation of a valid student ID. Workshop and student tickets can be purchased throughout the week at the reception of the Tshimologong Precinct.

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