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.
Netflix to make SA series
The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.
World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.
The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.
The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.
South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.
“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.
“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.
The series is due to start production in 2019.
Showmax shoots its first local drama
Showmax has completed filming its first commissioned drama, as it builds out its roster of original content.
The Girl From St Agnes, Showmax’s first original drama, wrapped on 28 November 2018 after filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Johannesburg. The eight-part whodunnit premieres on Showmax on 31 January 2019. It is the second series in a programme designed to build out its roster of exclusive, original content.
As Netflix takes hold as South Africa’s preferred streaming video-on-demand service, Showmax owner MultiChoice has made a string of strategic announcements designed to take the DStv paid satellite broadcasting service into the streaming era. Original content is critical to this strategy, as Netflix is on track to become the world’s biggest movie studio.
Showmax is available in 70 countries.
“Our first Original – last year’s light-hearted comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary – had the most successful launch day of any series on Showmax ever,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “This is a complete change of direction: The Girl From St Agnes is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing and taps into the current conversations in South Africa about #metoo and teen sexuality.”
At St Agnes, a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands, a popular and beautiful student is found dead at the base of the old mill. Fearful of the scandal it might cause, the school is quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld a tragic accident.
But drama teacher Kate Ballard doesn’t believe it. On the night of her death, an upset Lexi had been trying to contact her, and Kate had ignored her. Now wracked with guilt, Kate attempts to piece together the terrible truth.
The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn’t know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi’s killer won’t be the only person exposed…
Newcomer Jane De Wet was handpicked to play Lexi by legendary South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee (Tsotsi), who’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards in the last three years, for The Looming Tower and Roots.
Kate is played by Nina Milner, who modelled for Vogue Germany and at Paris Fashion Week last year and most recently starred in Troy: Fall Of A City as Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.
Jane and Nina are joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes internationally recognised South African talent like Robert Hobbs (District9), Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live), Tessa Jubber (Wallander), Karl Thaning (Dredd) and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City) opposite local favourites like Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word), Zakeeya Patel (High Rollers), Graham Hopkins (The Lab) and three-time South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) winner Jerry Mofokeng (Heist, Tsotsi), not to mention hot new talent like Paige Bonnin and Tristan de Beer.
The Girl From St Agnes is being produced by Quizzical Pictures, winners of the SAFTA for Best Drama for six of the last eight years, as well as a Peabody. Producer Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures’ managing director, is drawing on her own private school experiences, which sparked the original idea for the show. This is the first time Harriet has produced a series, rather than just executive producing, since 2009’s Hopeville, which won Best Drama and Miniseries at Rose d’Or, was nominated for an International Emmy, and was a finalist at Monte Carlo.
Catharine Cooke, who won this year’s Best Director In a TV Drama SAFTA for iNumber Number, co-directed the shoot with Cindy Lee, a commercials director helming her first drama series, having previously worked as the social media director on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror. Double SAFTA winner Gillian Breslin (Umlilo; 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) is head writer. This makes Girl From St Agnes a rare TV series commissioned, produced, written and directed by women.
“What links Girl From St Agnes, Tali’s Wedding Diary and the other Showmax Originals in the pipeline is our aim to work with the best South African talent and be the home for brave, quirky and at times edgy local stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” says Candice. “Creating new characters that audiences come to love and follow is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to establish a platform for more ‘Tali’s’ across varied genres.”
All eight episodes can be binged on Showmax from 31 January 2019.