/ 7 July 2024

South African series Spinners triumphs at Shanghai TV Festival, winning Best Foreign TV Series award

Fast becoming popular: The local series Spinners won a top award in China last month. Photo: Charlie Sperring

Where I come from, any household item (except for grandmother’s precious cutlery) can be used to make rhythmic sounds. Pots and plates become musical instruments, accompanied by song, ululation and dance at celebrations. 

This week, I am tapping my pen and keyboard in celebration of a local series winning on the global stage. 

On 28 June, the Showmax Original series Spinners won the Best Foreign TV Series award at the 29th Shanghai TV Festival’s Magnolia Awards in China. 

The first season of this South African thriller even beat the Emmy-winning final season of Succession

The Magnolia Awards are one the biggest TV award shows in China, thus for the Spinners crew and cast, this is a big deal.

Shot in Cape Town, Spinners centres around the extreme motorsport called “spinning”. It premiered on Showmax in November. 

Last month, this English-Afrikaans-Kaaps series was also released on Canal+ in France. This follows the  Canal+ release in Francophone Africa at the end of last year. 

Reviews are wide and wild. French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, for instance, said, “If we put the film City of God, the Fast and Furious franchise and the Gomorrah series in a shaker … the final cocktail could look like this production!” 

The first African series selected for the international CanneSeries festival, Spinners follows Ethan (breakout star Cantona James), a 17-year-old driver working for a local gang. 

Needing to support his younger brother, but increasingly disgusted with gang life, Ethan discovers a possible way out via spinning, where he can put his driving skills to better use. With a gang war looming, can he turn his life around fast enough?

Spinning entails driving cars in circles (or doughnuts) at high speed and performing stunts in or outside of the vehicle. In some coloured, Indian and black townships, the sport is popular, although viewed as dangerous, and often illegal, by the powers that be. 

However, according to newly appointed Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Gayton McKenzie, “Spinning and stance [customising] is not a crime.” Taking to his social media platforms after his appointment on Sunday, McKenzie said he aimed to make car spinning one of the “biggest sports” in the country. 

As one of the best and most captivating local productions in recent times, Spinners has helped to put this niche extreme motorsport on local and global platforms. 

As art practitioners, we hope that the new minister’s enthusiasm for promoting spinning will spill over into support for growing a more globally competitive film industry in South Africa.