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The River

The River tells the story of a diamond discovered in a river that divides densely populated township Refilwe from affluent suburb Silver Lakes in Pretoria. The graciously ruthless mine owner, Lindiwe Dikana (Sindi Dlathu), stops at nothing to make sure that the river’s riches benefit no one but herself. For the last three seasons The River has delivered on its telenovela promise of scandals, murder, affairs, corruption, luxury and misfortune that earned the series a 2020 Emmy nomination.

Becoming

Watch as director Nadia Hallgren leads the viewer through the events that led former US first lady Michelle Obama into the White House. Like the bestselling book of the same name, the documentary takes a look at her growing up in the south side of Chicago, her career, and her outreach work.

Jill Scott Verzuz Erykah Badu

Many us stayed up into the early hours of Sunday morning to watch as neo-soul veterans Jill Scott and Erykah Badu took to Instagram Live to give us renditions of their celebrated songs, like Window Seat and Getting in the Way. During the three-hour live-stream, they not only jam to each other’s music but celebrate one another in a candid, heart-warming conversation. Verzuz is the brainchild of hip-hop production stalwarts Swizz Beats and Timbaland, who are hosting virtual battles at a time when in-person gatherings are discouraged.

Angela Davis & Nikki Giovanni’s discussion with GirlTrek

The GirlTrek Movement is a public-health nonprofit organisation that uses walking to mobilise Black women. During lockdown, they have established the #DaughtersOf campaign where they practise fellowship in the name of Black womanhood and share ancient wisdom. Join founders Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison as they receive candid self-care and survival secrets from Angela Davis and Nikki Giovanni in an hour-and-a-half-long conversation.

Insecure

Issa Rae’s Insecure is back for its fourth season. Rewatch or catch up on the first three seasons to warm up for the protagonist’s misfortunes and relatable romantic and career wins. If you do watch it, make friends with podcasters Fran Medina and Crissle West as they unpack each episode on the HBO podcast Insecuritea.

Intersexions

Remember Intersexions? It’s the SABC drama series from the 2000s where HIV is the backdrop to the cast’s sexual encounters. Well, it’s on Netflix now. I wasn’t paying attention to the writing, production, impact and nuances when it originally aired, because I was too busy teenaging, so this is a welcome second chance.

The Midnight Gospel

If you are an Adventure Time fan this may be an instant favourite as it’s created by the same person: Pendleton Ward, together with comedian Duncan Trussell. The Midnight Gospel is centred around a space-based podcaster (spacecaster) called Clancy who uses his illegal multiverse simulator to travel through a variety of universes to interview their citizens about the apocalypses they are facing for his spacecast. It’s the hilariously dark, gory and apocalyptic content that we signed up for. It’s just easier to stomach because it plays out in a colourful animated world that’s too trippy to be true.

I Am Not a Witch

Directed by Runga Nyoni, this film uses a feminist lens and satire to comment on the absurdity of witch hunts. An eight-year-old girl is accused of sorcery when an accident takes place. She is then sent to a witch camp where women and girls accused of witchcraft are kept and forced to perform manual labour, act as a tourist attraction and use their alleged powers when they are instructed to.

Atlantics

Directed by Mati Diop, Atlantics tells the story of Ada — a young woman who reluctantly agrees to marry a man from a wealthy family — and her bygone lover Souleiman. After working as a construction worker in Dakar with no pay, Souleiman and his colleagues decide to cross the ocean to seek better job opportunities. After being gone for months, they return to settle the score with their former employers. Instead of being a conventional take on the refugee narrative, the film unpacks themes of class, power and gender. It’s available to stream on Netflix.

Pumzi

Written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu, who was behind Rafiki, Pumzi is a dystopian science-fiction film set 35 years after a global war over water. The protagonist is a botanist who sets out on a mission to bring life back to the world by planting vegetation. It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Brenda Fassie: Not a bad girl 

Released in 1997, this film sees Chris Austin document snapshots of Brenda Fassie’s life.

The Black Godfather

Directed by Reginald Hudlin, the documentary archives the story of US music executive Clarence Avant. Starring Hank Aaron, Dina R Andrews and other musicians who worked with Avant, the documentary depicts how he served the music industry by managing artists, founding record labels, organising concerts, and working as a mentor to black music executives like P Diddy, Babyface and Quincy Jones.

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Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa studies Digital Democracy, New Media and Political Activism, and Digital Politics.

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