Hayden Horner
2 minute read
6 Mar 2020
1:00 pm

Netflix increases investment in African storytelling

Hayden Horner

Last week saw the streaming giant's biggest African event with the worldwide release of 'Queen Sono' to critical acclaim.

Picture: Supplied

There’s no denying the plethora of great movies coming out of Africa.

And, contrary to popular belief, Africa’s presence at big awards ceremonies dates as far back as 1958, when Egyptian director Youssef Chahine submitted Cairo Station for Oscar consideration.

Since those olden days, African countries have been proving their mettle at the Oscars and scooping up quite a few golden statues in various categories.

Yet, there are those who feel the continent could be doing so much better.

Shadow. Picture: Netflix

Celebrated director Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project last year joined forces with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers to locate, restore, and preserve 50 African cinema classics and share them with the global audience.

Coincidentally, Netflix last year released possibly the biggest SA action series, Shadow, to a record number of continent-wide members.

No one knew at the time that Shadow and other African releases, like Trevor Noah’s Son Of Patricia and Catching Feelings were part of Netflix’s bigger plan to celebrate and take African film and talent to the international screen.

Last week saw its biggest African event with the worldwide release of Queen Sono to critical acclaim and the announcement that it will increase investment in Nigeria’s creative community with the production of its first African original scripted series.

Pearl Thusi as Queen Sono

Queen Sono. Picture: Netflix

With 167 million paying subscribers in more than 190 countries, head of African originals at Netflix Dorothy Ghettuba says the continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told.

“I’m excited that in the same week that we’re launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be there in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production,” said Ghettuba ahead of the Queen Sono red carpet premiere in Johannesburg.

The yet-to-be-titled project is a six-part series and will be directed by Akin Omotoso, alongside Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi and will star Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye alongside other Nollywood (Nigerian film industry) greats.

Set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos, it will tell the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death.

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