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Wachowski hits come to VIDI

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Lana and Andy Wachowski’s movies are now available on VIDI. The movies include include The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and their most recent blockbuster – Jupiter Ascending.

The Wachowskis made their directing debut in 1996 with Bound, and reached fame with their second film The Matrix in 1999, for which they won multiple awards and much critical acclaim. They wrote and directed its two sequels – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions – both in 2003.

All three films star Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss and have been added to the already extensive VIDI library.  A complex story, the series tells of Thomas Anderson, a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo who finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland where most of humanity has been captured by a race of machines that live off the humans’ body heat and electrochemical energy and who imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must return to the Matrix and confront the agents: super-powerful computer programmes devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion.

Following the commercial success of the Matrix series, the siblings wrote and produced the 2006 film V for Vendetta, which is currently available on VIDI. The film stars Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Hugo Weaving (a Matrix regular) and tells the story of Evey Hammond and her unlikely but instrumental part in bringing down the fascist government that has taken control of a futuristic Britain. Saved from a life-and-death situation by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask who calls himself V, she learns a general summary of V’s past and decides to help him bring down those who committed the atrocities that led to Britain being in the shape that it is in. The film was directed by Wachowski collaborator James McTeigue and its controversial storyline and themes were the target of both criticism and praise from socio-political groups. It was released in 2006 and was a critical and commercial success.

The Wachowskis returned to directing with 2008’s Speed Racer, an adaptation of a Japanese manga series from the 1950s. Upon release the movie was considered a critical and commercial disappointment even though its special effects were noted as outstanding. However, in more recent years, critics have put the film on their lists of underrated or cult films.

The story begins with a young man with natural racing instincts whose goal is to win the Crucible, a cross-country car racing rally that took the life of his older brother. But along the way he uncovers a secret that top corporate interests are fixing races and cheating to gain profit. So he sets about seeking to rescue his family’s business and the racing sport itself.  The film stars Emile Hirsch and Matthew Fox (Lost) and Susan Sarandon and is available on VIDI from June 11.

The Wachowski’s latest film, Jupiter Ascending, was released in cinemas in February 2015.  An original science fiction screenplay they wrote, the movie features an all star cast that includes Channing Tatum (Magic Mike), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Sean Bean (Game of Thrones).

Kunis plays Jupiter Jones who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, she dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine Wise (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

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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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