Showmax Premieres First-Time Director’s Film at Joburg Film Festival

Showmax premieres first-time director’s film at Joburg Film Festival, and announces slate

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• Bare-knuckle boxing film Musangwe has its world premiere at JFF, ahead of 22 March 2024 release on Showmax

• Showmax announces more movies in development from first-time film directors

Musangwe has its world premiere at JFF

The Showmax Original film Musangwe will have its world premiere at the Joburg Film Festival. 

Takalani Masevhe wants to become a champion boxer but keeps trying to shortcut the process. While visiting his ailing grandmother in Venda, he discovers musangwe, a bare-knuckle boxing competition. Can he take the title, and the love of Lufuno, from Matome, the reigning champ?

Wiseman Zitha (Entangled) stars as Takalani, with Mulisa Mudau (Muvhango) as Lufuno and Tiisetso Thoka (The Herd) as Matome. Also look out for Africa Movie Academy Award nominee Millicent Makhado (Muvhango), Phophi Mudau (Skeem Saam), Elsie Rasalanavho (Muvhango), and Khathu Litshani, well-known on TikTok as DJ Khathu.  

Produced by The Milton Empire (IntlawuloMzali Wam),Musangwe is the debut feature film from Lufuno Nekhabambe, who was part of the SAFTA-winning directing team on Gomora and was also nominated twice for his work on Isithembiso

Musangwe screens at 17h30 on Wednesday, 28 February 2024 at Theatre-on-the-Square in Sandton before coming to Showmax on Friday, 22 March 2024.

Watch the trailer: 

Showmax announces more films in development from first-time directors

At last year’s edition, in partnership with the Joburg Film Festival, Showmax shared an open call for a slate of African movies from first-time directors, which led to 296 submissions from the four eligible countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. 

These submissions were then whittled down by a panel made up of Showmax’s executive head of content, Allan Sperling; Joburg Film Festival curator Nhlanhla Ndaba; MultiChoice content executives Jakki Anyanzwa, Sanele Shibe, Victor Aghahowa and Wikus du Toit; and award-winning independent filmmakers Femi Odugbemi for West Africa, Njoki Muhoho for East Africa and Pat van Heerden for South Africa. The jury was chaired by Cheryl Uys-Allie, the former Africa director for the MultiChoice Talent Factory film academies in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. 

The films currently in development for Showmax are: 

• Adam, a drama from South African writer Winford Collings and director Liyema Speelman. A headstrong teenager clashes with his idealistic teacher at a farm school. 

• Bet I Love You, a comedy from Nigerian writer-director Joseph Duke. After losing a bet, Akin tries to get the money he was given for his sister’s wedding back in time for her ceremony.

• Bobo, a crime drama from Kenyan director Maurice Muendo. A promising runway model puts her career in jeopardy when she falls in love with a criminal. 

• Finding Optel, a whimsical detective story from South African directors Mikayla Brown and Jesse Brown. A teen detective is determined to find her neighbourhood’s missing dog, Optel, but the search opens old wounds about her brother’s disappearance seven years before. 

• Kites, a comedy from South African writer-director Menzi Mzimela. Sihle offered to drive his DJ friends to their gigs – not a body to the hospital… 

• Pretty’s Daughter, a teen drama from South African writer-director Siphokazi Mtila. While Sine struggles with her “new” mother, she has to navigate the treacherous waters of her posh new school, mean girls, crushes and what it really means to be yourself when you don’t recognise who that is.

• Perfect Match, a romcom from South African director Mphomotseng Hoelejane. When a lobola mishap upturns his perfect plans, under-pressure Muzi Nyathi teams up with a sassy swindler to prove himself to his family, but they both get more than they bargained for. 

• Pheletso, a thriller from South African writer-director Zack Ntombeni, about a fatal collision that rips two families apart

• Race to Liberty – The Accountant, a thriller from Ghanaian writer-director Nathaniel Nicholai Williams, about an accountant with a gambling addiction that leaves him in debt to a drug kingpin.

“First-time feature film directors like Mandla N and Kelsey Egan got their break on Showmax, with Loving Thokoza earning Mandla the SAFTA for Made-for-TV Movie and Kelsey’s Glasshouse becoming the most awarded feature film overall at the SAFTAs, with five Golden Horns,” says Sperling. “So we’ve consistently seen the benefits of opening up the industry and empowering first-time filmmakers to tell the stories of their communities in their own languages, across a variety of styles.” 

The films are all currently in further development, with the first-time directors paired with experienced production companies and executive producers.  

The industry programme at this year’s Joburg Film Festival will open with a panel on the process so far, at 10am on Wednesday, 28 February 2024 at Sandton Convention Centre. 

MultiChoice commissioning editor Lidudumalingani Sikupela will moderate the conversation between Uys-Allie, du Toit, Shibe, and some of the first-time directors. 

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