Today is another Friday and the day is not complete without our movies recommendations. As our custom is, we will be recommending 9 African movies and series to watch on Netflix now. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices. So, write them all down on slips of paper, put them in a bowl, and pick at random. You will be fine with whatever you draw first.
1.0 Queen Sono
Queen Sono is an adult orphan who finds her purpose working for a spy agency dedicated to protecting the entire African continent. The series stars South African actress Pearl Thusi (“Quantico”) as the title character who takes on dangerous missions while contending with personal struggles and various relationships. She is a member of a seemingly small and besieged South African intelligence unit called the Special Operations Group (SOP).
The unit has the task of protecting the country and the entire continent from any kind of threat, including terrorism, corruption, and European neo-colonialism. But Queen is certainly up for the task, dashing from one African country to another by air, land, and sea, nurturing ties, collecting necessary intel, and fending off some really mean dudes, all with a sometimes immaculate style.
2.0 Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
Self Made is a chronicle of the incredible story of Madam C.J. Walker, who was the first African American self-made millionaire. This is the inspiring story of trailblazing African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker who built a haircare empire that made her America’s first female self-made millionaire.
“Self Made” is definitely worth a watch. The movie is inspired by Walker’s life. It takes viewers back to the early 20th century as Walker overcomes extreme racism and sexism to become one of the wealthiest women in America by selling haircare products to black women. The miniseries presents a rare opportunity to deep dive into the history of black success in America.
3.0 Kings of Boys
King of Boys is the story of Alhaja Eniola Salami. She is a businesswoman and philanthropist with a checkered past and a promising political future. Her political ambitions see her outgrowing the underworld connections responsible for her considerable wealth. She’s then drawn into a power struggle that threatens everything she holds dear. To come out of this on top, she will need every ounce of the cunning, ruthlessness, and strategy that took her to the top. She also requires the loyalty of those closest to her. But who can she really trust? Watch the trailer below
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4.0 Catching Feelings
This South African movie, Catching Feelings, adds a dash of romance to our list while retaining a sense of sociopolitical consciousness. The movie focuses on a university lecturer named Max and his girlfriend Sam, who flit around Johannesburg’s cosmopolitan circles. When a famous white South African writer returns to Max’s university for a book tour, Max finds himself drawn to the writer’s social circles yet resenting the writer’s success and this puts strain on his relationship with Sam. The movie is quite character driven, and contains many light yet thought-provoking musings on racism, classism, and creativity within a post-apartheid South African context.
Azali centers on a girl named Amina, who initially lives in a small village in northern Ghana. While trying to evade an arranged marriage, Amina gets thrust into the slums of Accra. She then resorts to sex work for survival. Azali doesn’t stray into ridiculous territory and maintains a pretty steady plot progression. The movie has a surprise twist ending that we won’t spoil, but otherwise offers a straight-shooting stark take on life in Accra’s slums. Its production quality and cinematography are also pretty decent.
Vaya is the story of South Africans who come from rural communities to fulfill personal dreams or aspirations in Johannesburg. There’s a man eagerly anticipating a job in the big city, another young man trying to reclaim his father’s corpse, and a young woman who wants to escape the drudgery of rural life.
Each of these stories soon encounters a twist, launching Vaya into a gripping and poignant exploration into the dark underbelly of urban life in South Africa’s beating economic heart. The movie feels like a South African version of Mexican masterpiece Amores Perros, which similarly weaved together three narratives into a powerful and dynamic feature.
Atlantics tells the story of a young woman named Ada. She’s about to enter an arranged marriage with a rich man named Omar, but actually loves another man named Souleiman. One day, Souleiman sets off by sea to Europe and Ada hears nothing from him thereafter. As Ada’s wedding date approaches and she longs for Souleiman, a series of mysterious events begin occurring.
Besides intriguing characters, Atlantics has superb cinematography and sound design. The film’s colors are achingly cool, and a droning soundscape further builds an appropriately haunting and mystical ambience. Even without Diop’s legendary family background, Atlantics more than deserved its Cannes award.
8.0 The Burial of Kojo
The Burial of Kojo is another mysticism-tinged movie that raises and arguably redefines artistic standards in African cinema. The movie opens with a girl named Esi reflecting upon her father Kojo. Mystical elements seep into Esi’s life as the story solidifies into a journey where Esi must rescue her father from an abandoned mineshaft. The movie’s fantastic score contains flairs of Afrobeat, and exceptional editing and color choices supercharge sweeping shots achieved through thoughtful camera movements.
9. October 1
October 1, our next selection in this list of best African movies on Netflix. Set in the waning days of colonial Nigeria, the film follows a police officer named Danladi Waziri who must solve a murder mystery before Nigeria’s independence day on October 1, 1960.
October 1 stands above many Nollywood movies in terms of production quality and plot. The film avoids melodrama and sensationalism, offering a detailed and entertaining look at a period of history. October 1 includes ample commentary on pertinent sociopolitical topics like imperialism, tribalism, and nation-building. Those who might not know much about Nigerian history can use it as an easy entry point for learning more.
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