New African films on Showmax in September 2020 include a film inspired by the life of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and a lockdown doccie.

The Train of Salt and Sugar

Mozambique is in the midst of civil war. A single train connects Nampula to Malawi. No civilians are allowed and yet hundreds risk their lives through 700km of sabotaged tracks. Salomão and Taiar are two soldiers who don’t get along. Rosa is a young nurse on her way to her first job, who soon becomes an object of desire. Mariamu, her close friend, only hopes to trade salt for sugar. Amongst bullets and laughter, life goes on and stories unfold as the train advances under attack, ever so slowly, towards the next stop.

Directed by award-winning Mozambican filmmaker Licínio Azevedo (Virgin Margarida), and co-produced by South Africa’s Urucu Media (Inxeba/The Wound, This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection), The Train of Salt and Sugar won the Independent Italian Critics Award for best film at Locarno 2016, as well as Best Film at Carthage and Johannesburg, not to mention Best Director at Cairo, among other honours.

The Hollywood Reporter called it, “Stirring and heartfelt… An epic tale of peril and endurance on an arduous cross-country journey,” while Variety called it “a harrowing account of the extraordinary risks ordinary people were forced to take in order to survive the country’s brutal civil war.”

Joka Ya Hao

Inspired by the life of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the 30-minute short film Joko Ya Hao tells the story of Nozizwe, a deeply spiritual Christian woman whose convictions lead her to defy the gender norms of the 1950s and those who believe women don’t belong in politics, leaving her village in Gracetown to fight the oppressive regime and seek help for her people.

Nominated for a 2020 SAFTA for Best Short Film, Joko Ya Hao is directed by SAFTA-winner Mmabatho Montsho (Thula’s Vine) and stars SAMA-winning songstress Simphiwe Dana alongside the likes of Jet Novuka (Uzalo, Yizo Yizo), Khanya Mkangisa (The Queen), Elliot Makhubo (Rhythm City) and Wandile Molebatsi (A Million Colours).

Mother to Mother

A filmed account of the stage version of Sindiwe Magona’s novel about the tragic killing of Amy Biehl during the pre-election violence of 1993, Mother to Mother explores the difficult channels of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation from the perspective of the mothers of the killer and the victim.

Based on the intimate one-woman play staged by singer, actress and playwright Thembi Mtshali, Mother to Mother seeks an understanding from the mother as she explains the direct consequences of apartheid, which influenced her son’s actions. Interspersed with the filmed theatrical production are personal interviews with Magona and Mtshali, as well as with students from the Western Cape.

Directed by Sara de Gouveia (The Sound of Masks, Mama Goema), Mother to Mother comes to Showmax straight from its world premiere at the 2020 Encounters International Documentary Film Festival, who praised the documentary as “an engaging and thought-provoking work of cinema that expands our collective humanity.”

The Essentials

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on people across the globe, but it hasn’t stopped them from standing up to unite against an invisible enemy.

This brand new documentary follows the lockdown experiences of ordinary South Africans, following filmmaker Dirk Smit’s journey as he discovers glimmers of hope, creativity and resilience in South African people.

What: New African films on Showmax