In its Best of 2019 list, Showmax has revealed 10 hits from Africa and its diaspora that made waves internationally this year:
Jo (Stycie Waweru) is a witty nine-year-old obsessed with Jackie Chan movies. She’s also terminally ill. When she is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life, her only comfort is her dream of being a superhero – a dream her rebellious teenage sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia), overprotective mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfil…
Directed by Kenyan Likarion Wainana and produced by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume, Babylon Berlin), Supa Modo has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes:Variety called it “a tender, bittersweet fable,” while The Seattle Times wrote, “I’m glad movie theatres are dark because I ugly-cried my way through all 74 minutes of Supa Modo. I straight-up bawled my eyes out… Brutal and beautiful, melancholy and joyous, Supa Modo is simultaneously crushing and uplifting.”
- Won Best European Film For Children, European Children’s Film Association Awards, 2019
- Winner of over 50 international awards, including a Children’s Jury Special Mention in the Generation 14Plus category at Berlin in 2018
- Won Audience Award, Children’s Film Festival Seattle, 2019
Ramy Hassan (stand-up comedian Ramy Youssef) is a first generation Egyptian-American in politically-divided New Jersey, where he’s caught between a Muslim community that thinks life is a moral test and a millennial generation that thinks life has no consequences.
The breakout diaspora series ends in Egypt, but as Youssef says, “There’s this narrative that comes from certain places in America: ‘Go back where you came from; that’s where you belong.’ Sometimes you have this idea of, you know, ‘What if I went back there? Everything would make sense.’ And it doesn’t.”
Ramy was hailed by The New York Times as “a quietly revolutionary comedy,” “generous, profound… a must-see new sitcom” by Entertainment Weekly and “an essential voice for millennial TV” by Wired.
Egyptian Oscar nominee Jehane Noujaim (The Square) is one of the directors, Emmy nominee Dan Romer (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is the composer, the multi-award-winning Hiam Abbas (Succession, Blade Runner 2049) plays Ramy’s mother, and Hulu recently renewed the hit comedy for a second season, which will guest star two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book). on Audience Award: Episodic, SXSW, 2019
- Won Audience Award: Episodic, SXSW, 2019
- #14, The 15 Best TV Shows of the 2010s, Mashable
- #29 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best shows of 2019
- 97% critics rating, Rotten Tomatoes | 8/10, IMDB
1Magic’s thrill-a-minute telenovela The River sees two different but interdependent worlds collide in spectacular fashion. One side of the river is home to exquisite mansions populated by society’s upper crust, who will go to any lengths to maintain their wealth; the other by those who have little to show for their hard work.
At the 2019 SAFTAs, Moshidi Motshegwa won Best Actress as Malefu; Presley Chweneyagae won Best Actor as Cobra; and Lawrence Maleka won Best Supporting Actor as Zolani. Other stars include Sindi Dlathu, Hlomla Dandala, Don Mlangeni and newcomer Larona Moagi. Just be warned: the body count is high in this one, so don’t get too attached to anyone…
- Nominated as Best Telenovela at the 2019 International Emmy Awards
- The most awarded production at the 2019 SAFTAs, taking home 11 golden horns, including Best Telenovela
Zog is the keenest but clumsiest pupil in his class at Dragon School, where he longs to win a gold star as he learns how to fly, roar and breathe fire. He keeps meeting a kindly young girl who patches up his bumps and bruises, but can she help him with his trickiest school assignment yet: capturing a princess?
Animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish for the UK’s Magic Light Pictures, the 27-minute animated short captures the magic of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestselling picture book, with an all-star voice cast including the likes of Kit Harrington, Sir Lenny Henry and Tracey Ullman. It’s co-directed by multi-award-winning South African Daniel Snaddon (Stick Man) and two-time Oscar nominee Max Lang (The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom).
- Just nominated for Best Special Production and Best Storyboardingfor the 2020 Annie Awards
- Nominated for Best Kids Animation at the 2020 International Emmy Kids Awards
- Won Best Animation, Shanghai International TV Festival, 2019
- Won Audience Award: 3-6, New York International Children’s Film Festival, 2019
Stroop: Journey into the Rhino Horn War is a gripping wildlife crime thriller of a documentary that takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride between Africa and Asia. Two first-time filmmakers, award-winning editor Susan Scott (The Last Lions) and 50/50 presenter Bonné de Bod, embed themselves on the frontlines of the rhino poaching crisis, where they are given exclusive access to the war as it unfolds on the ground. Carving out six months for the project, the two women quickly find themselves immersed in a world far larger and more dangerous than they had imagined, only emerging from their odyssey four years later.
- Won Best of Festival, The International Wildlife Film Festival 2019
- Winner of 26 awards to date, most recently the 2019 SANParks Kudu Award for Best Television Journalism
- Shortlisted for the presenter and impact awards at Jackson Wild 2019, arguably the Oscars of the wildlife film world
Liyana is a genre-defying documentary that tells the story of five children in the Kingdom of Eswatini who, with some guidance from South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope, turn past trauma into an original fable about a girl named Liyana, who embarks on a perilous quest to save her young twin brothers. The film weaves Liyana’s animated journey together with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance and hope.
Liyana is the directorial debut of Swaziland-born and raised AaronKopp, with his wife Amanda. Before moving into directing, Aaron shot the Oscar-winning documentary Saving Face and the Oscar-nominated The Hunting Ground.
Liyana is executive produced by Emmy winner Thandie Newton (Westworld), produced by Oscar winner Daniel Junge (Saving Face), and edited by Davis Coombe (Chasing Coral, Chasing Ice). Nigerian Shofela Coker created the stunning animated artwork, while South African Philip Miller composed the score.
Entertainment Weekly hailed it as “Gorgeous. Unlike any documentary you’ve ever seen,” while The Hollywood Reporter praised it as “A lyrical work, as bright and captivating as it is poignant.”
- Winner of 35 awards
- Shofela Coker was nominated for a prestigious Cinema Eye Honours Award for Animation this year
MUNKI AND TRUNK | ANIMATED SERIES
Produced in Cape Town by Sunrise Productions, Munki and Trunk is a dialogue-free 3D animated TV series for kids aged four to seven, and animals of all ages.
Munki is a bold, banana-juggling adventurer. Trunk is a big-hearted and optimistic elephant. These best friends do everything together – swinging, stomping and somersaulting as they explore their jungle world, hatching plans, solving problems, having fun and helping friends along the way.
- Over 2m YouTube subscribers to the JungleBeat – Munki and Trunk channel
- Over 860m YouTube views on the JungleBeat – Munki and Trunk channel
EVERYTHING MUST FALL | DOCUMENTARY
Directed by Rehad Desai, who won the International Emmy Award for Best Documentary for Miners Shot Down, Everything Must Fall is an unflinching look at the #FeesMustFall student movement that burst onto the South African political landscape in 2015 as a protest over the cost of education. The story is told by four student leaders at Wits University and their Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib, a left-wing, former anti-apartheid student activist. When Habib’s efforts to contain the protest fail, he brings 1 000 police onto campus, with dire consequences for the young leaders…
- Won The Vaclav Havel Award, One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, 2019
- Won Best Documentary & Best Documentary Director, SAFTAs, 2019
In a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa, a Malawian teenager finds himself torn between his African roots and Chinese upbringing. Once the star performer with dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li, Enock is now in his final year of school and has to make some tough decisions about his future. Will he return to his relatives in his home village or study abroad in Taiwan?
Directed by South African Nicole Schafer, Buddha in Africa was praised by Variety as “a sensitive portrayal of a young man torn between the kung-fu dreams and Confucian doctrine of his Buddhist upbringing, and a Malawian culture whose powerful roots might ultimately be holding him back… A complicated portrait of what’s been described as the latest chapter in Africa’s long struggle against colonization.”
- Screened at IDFA 2019, arguably the world’s top documentary festival, as part of their prestigious Best Of Fests line-up
- Won Best South African Documentary at this year’s Durban International Film Festival
- Screened at HotDocs 2019 – North America’s top documentary festival
- Opening night film at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival
THE HERD S1-2 | SERIES
Twenty-eight years ago, Bhekisizwe Mthethwa (Sello Maake Ka Ncube) was fired from his job at a butchery due to his leg injury. With no job and a hungry wife and baby, Bheki sought out the guidance of the local witch, MaMngadi (Winnie Ntshaba), who promised him a bright future if he was willing to make a great sacrifice.
When we meet Bheki in the present, he’s married to MaMngadi, with three more children, Muzi (Sparky Xulu), Nkosana (Paballo Mavundla) and Dumazile (Cindy Mahlangu). But when Bheki must choose a successor to his cattle business, his big sacrifice still weighs heavily on his soul, even as his children go into battle over what each believes to be rightfully theirs.
- Won Jury’s Special Prize, Seoul International Drama Awards, 2019
BUT THE REAL PRIZE IS LOCAL AUDIENCES
Of course, international awards aren’t the holy grail for African productions: local audiences are. 2019 has seen a number of landmark breakthroughs in that regard, from Showmax’s second Original, the boarding school murder mystery The Girl From St Agnes, to M-Net’s co-production with Cinemax and ZDF, the Deon Meyer adaptation Trackers, to Big Brother Naija, which generated a record 240m votes.
Other audience favourites on Showmax in South Africa included the crime series Die Byl; the telenovela The Queen; the precolonial epic Ifalakhe; the supernatural crime series Die Spreeus; Dream: The Lebo Mathosa Story; the reality seriesThe Real Housewives of Johannesburg, Being Bonang, Trippin with Skhumba, The Bachelor South Africa, Boer Soek ‘n Vrou, and Survivor South Africa; the Comedy Central Roast of AKAand Tali’s Wedding Diary, Showmax’s debut Original which was the most awarded comedy at the SAFTAs this year.
2019 also marked the first time South African audiences could stream the likes of Kanarie, one of Indiewire’s 14 Best LGBTQ International Films of 2018, and Whispering Truth To Power, the Thuli Madonsela documentary that won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs 2018.
Security issues grow with transition to smart TVs
You can’t picture a modern home without smart equipment. Smart thermostats, smart refrigerators, robot vacuums, and smart TVs won’t surprise anyone these days. For example, around 70% of the TVs being sold worldwide are smart TVs. Although they bring more entertainment, these devices also carry new digital threats.
Sometimes people forget that smart TVs are as vulnerable to cybercrime as their smartphones and computers. Daniel Markuson, the digital privacy expert at NordVPN, says that “although smart TVs are connected to the internet and have similar functions to computers, they aren’t equipped with the same security tools, which makes them easy prey for hackers.”
What’s so scary about your TV getting hacked? As smart TVs gain more features, the amount of your private information they handle increases too. TVs aren’t just for watching movies and shows anymore. Now you can use them for web browsing, streaming video content, gaming, and even shopping online.
To enjoy your smart TV to the fullest, you need to download various apps and games. These cost money, so you need your credit card details filled in. Putting your financial information, logins, and passwords on your TV makes it an appealing target for hacking.
According to Daniel Markuson, a smart TV can be used to spy on its users. Hackers can access its camera and microphone through malware, which they can slip into your TV when it is connected to Wi-Fi. They can use footage from your bedroom or living room to blackmail you and your family. By watching your home and listening to your conversations, hackers know what goods you have, where you keep them when you’re away, and what your plans are.
If you use your smart TV for web browsing, you can infect it with various viruses too, says the digital privacy expert at NordVPN. Like computers, smart TVs run on software, but they don’t have the same strong antivirus and firewall systems installed. Once your TV gets infected, your browsing history, passwords, and other private data become accessible to hackers. And they won’t miss the opportunity to use this information in ransomware attacks.
Even though smart TVs are vulnerable to cyber threats, Daniel Markuson says there is no need to panic yet. The expert names a few simple principles every smart TV owner should follow to protect their device.
Always update your TV’s software whenever a new version becomes available. The expert says that software updates are crucial for cybersecurity as manufacturers do their best to patch vulnerabilities. Updates often repair security flaws, fix or remove various bugs, add new features, and improve the existing ones. Some TVs install updates automatically by default. With others, you may need to check for updates periodically to make sure your device runs on the latest version.
Use available security measures such as a VPN. The best practice for any internet-connected device is to install a firewall and use a VPN such as NordVPN. It secures your device and lets you enjoy fast internet access with encryption-powered privacy.
Connect your smart TV to the internet only when needed. It isn’t necessary to have your TV connected to Wi-Fi all the time. To make it less vulnerable to hacker attacks, turn on the Wi-Fi connection only when you are using it.
Download apps from official stores only. Do not install any programs and games from unofficial sources on your smart TV. Make sure that both the app and its provider are reliable. Moreover, if an application asks for access to your data, camera, or microphone that isn’t necessary for its operation, never accept it.
Be careful with personal files and financial data. Shopping online on a big smart TV screen might be fun, but be careful providing your credit card details and other sensitive information this way. Although some manufacturers equip their TV sets with security features, they cannot guarantee safety online. “People who synchronize their smart TVs with their computers to access compatible media content should be especially cautious,” warns Daniel Markuson. The connection between your smart TV and your computer can be a weak link and lead to a data breach.
Use strong Wi-Fi passwords. This practice is the most obvious and the easiest to follow. Create a strong password to protect your Wi-Fi connection at home and don’t share it with any outsiders.
Turn off your TV camera when not in use. Whether it’s a built-in camera or the one connected to a TV via Wi-Fi, turn it off when not using it. If you can’t turn off your camera, use a piece of tape or a sticker over the camera lens to cover it.
Tech too complex? It stresses out even the tech-savvy
Even the savviest members of the tech industry get stressed by common devices that power their everyday lives, according to a recent poll conducted at CES 2020 by Asurion, the global leader in helping people connect, protect and enjoy their tech.
Asurion surveyed nearly 1,400 attendees of CES 2020, the world’s largest and most influential tech industry event, about their relationship with personal tech and their role as tech expert for family and friends. What the tech care company found is that even the tech-savvy, tech DIY’ers and early adopters stress out over some of the most ordinary devices in our hands and homes.
So, what tech tops the list of devices that stress out some of the consumer electronics industry’s tech enthusiasts?
- Mesh routers and Wi-Fi networks (33%)
- Phones (26%)
- Smart home security systems (23%)
And, the tech-related activities that even the tech-savvy dread the most?
- Troubleshooting a device that worked perfectly yesterday (39%)
- Device security (27%)
- Setting up devices (nearly 27%)
Asurion helps nearly 300 million customers worldwide unlock the potential of their tech with a team of over 10,000 Experts who are just a call, click or tap away. The company’s Experts provide ongoing tech support, same-day device repair, and same-day delivery and setup services. They’ll meet customers virtually, in-home, at select partner stores, and in more than 540 uBreakiFix stores across the country or wherever it’s convenient.
“The tech industry just spent four amazing days experiencing and celebrating the latest innovations in the future of tech,” said Teresa May, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Asurion. “What we heard is that even common tech tasks and devices can be challenging. Every day, our Experts help people across the country with their devices – everything from setting up a new phone to troubleshooting streaming issues on their smart TVs. Our CES poll reveals that the industry’s top tech innovators share the same pain points affecting millions of Americans.”
Asurion’s Experts received more than 18.5 million calls and chats from customers seeking tech help last year. And while the No. 1 question this holiday was a strong “How do I activate my new phone?” Asurion Experts also received many questions ranging from “How do I connect to Wi-Fi?” to “Can I sync my smart speakers to play them in tandem?”
And while the tech industry may have tech challenges of their own, they also get tapped by family and friends for help. Eight out of 10 attendees surveyed said their family and friends rely on them to help set up and troubleshoot their tech. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they hesitate to gift tech to their loved ones because the recipient won’t know how to use it, and nearly half (46%) gave pause to gifting tech to family and friends because they didn’t want to be the one to help set it up.
Asurion CES Tech Poll
Consumer Tech Devices That Stress CES Attendees Out the Most
1. Mesh Routers and Wi-Fi Networks (33%)
2. Phones (26%)
3. Smart Home Security Systems (23%)
4. Smart Home Assistants/Hubs (20%)
5. Bluetooth Printers (19%)
6. Smart Home Automation (19%)
7. Laptops/Tablets (18%)
8. Smart TVs (17%)
9. Smart Appliances (14%)
10. Home Energy, Lighting and Switches (13%)
Tech Activities That Stress Out CES Attendees the Most
1. Troubleshooting Tech That Worked Perfectly Yesterday (39%)
2. Security (27%)
3. Setting up a Device (27%)
4. Privacy (23%)
5. Helping Others With Their Tech (20%)
6. Managing or Connecting Multiple Devices (19%)
7. Wi-Fi Connectivity (19%)
8. Paying for Personal Data Storage (18%)
9. Learning a New Operating System (17%)
10. Choosing Which Brand To Purchase (17%)
To learn more about where you can get tech support and protection, visit Asurion.com.