African streaming service Showmax has announced a new international co-production: Jahmil XT Qubeka and Layla Swart’s epic African mythology series Blood Psalms, with Canal+ International.
This continues a move towards co-productions from Showmax’s parent company, MultiChoice, which partnered with HBO on last year’s Trackers, an adaptation of the bestselling Deon Meyer novel, which outperformed Game of Thrones in South Africa.
“This is a conscious move on our part to ramp up investment in African content,” says Yolisa Phahle, CEO of General Entertainment for MultiChoice. “We’re already seeing a virtuous cycle in action with more spend on local production yielding higher and higher quality output, which in turn has led to international co-investment and distribution. This is just the start of bringing the Africa we know and love to the rest of the world.”
Blood Psalms is an epic series based on ancient African mythology. Currently shooting in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, Blood Psalms chronicles the rise to power of a fierce teenaged princess, Zazi (Bokang Phelane from Keeping Score, Emoyeni), who battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through ancient curses, long-standing tribal vendettas, and the wrath of the Gods.
Show creators Layla Swart and Jahmil X.T. Qubeka from Yellowbone Entertainment were responsible for South Africa’s 2020 Oscar entry, the boxing drama Knuckle City, the most awarded film at this year’s South African Film and Television Awards, where it took home six awards, including Best Director for Jahmil and Best Editor for Layla.
The heavy-weight ensemble cast includes South African Film and Television Awards winners Bongile Mantsai (Knuckle City), Hamilton Dlamini (Five Fingers To Marseilles), Hlubi Mboya (Isidingo), Mothusi Magano (Tsotsi, Hotel Rwanda), Siv Ngesi (Knuckle City, Still Breathing), Thishiwe Ziqubu (Hard To Get), Warren Masemola (The Republic, Tjovitjo), and Zolisa Xaluva (Gomora, Knuckle City), as well as SAFTA nominees Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa (Rockville), Niza Jay (The Wound), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word, Black Sails), Sello Maake Ka Ncube (The Herd), Thando Thabethe (Housekeepers), Thembekile Komani (Knuckle City) and Zikhona Sodlaka (Shooting Stars), not to mention Faith Baloyi and Thabo Rametsi, the leads in the 2019 Berlinale Panorama opener Flatland and Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu respectively.
The announcement follows on from the recent announcement of four more Showmax Originals: Life With Kelly Khumalo, the hit reality series about one of South Africa’s biggest music stars, as well as the long-awaited second season of the South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA)-winning comedy, Tali’s Wedding Diary; the nightclub-set murder mystery Skemerdans; and the small town horror Dam, all expected in early 2021. Showmax Originals like Tali’s Wedding Diary, The Girl From St. Agnes and Somizi & Mohale: The Union all set first-day viewing records on the streaming platform.