The plum picks in this roundup are gathering flies. View the freshest plums here:
Everything coming to Showmax in South Africa in April 2021
There’s a new Showmax Original landing on 28 April – the first Afrikaans Original, Skemerdans – plus a brand-new HBO series, The Nevers, coming only to Showmax. Subscribers will also have early access to the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale, the Trolls World Tour family fave, Edward Norton’s Bruce Willis-powered movie, Motherless Brooklyn, the boxset of Isibaya Season 8 and the latest episodes of Rockville. And that’s without even mentioning any of the excellent documentaries, including the eye-opening Fake Famous and the very kooky How To With John Wilson.
Here is our pick of the highlights, followed by the listing in date order. (Luckily there are a tonne of public holidays in April, or else you’d never have time to get through all of these!)
Skemerdans | Showmax Original | Binge from 28 April
The Showmax Original Skemerdans is a Cape Flats neo-noir murder mystery set at the Oasis jazz club, the centre of a power struggle between two brothers, a scorned widow and an organised crime syndicate.
SAFTA winners Kevin Smith (Isidingo, Arendsvlei), Ilse Klink (Stroomop, Isidingo) and Brendon Daniels (Four Corners, Sara se Geheim, Arendsvlei) lead an all-star cast that includes Trudy van Rooy (Die Byl, Sara Se Geheim); SAFTA nominee Vinette Ebrahim (7de Laan, Binnelanders); 2019 Comics’ Choice nominee and Good Hope FM Happy Hour host, Carl Weber; Bongo Mbutuma (Die Spreeus, Erfsondes); and the dearly missed Ceagan Arendse (Suidooster, Arendsvlei), who passed away in February 2021.
2019 Standard Bank Young Artist Amy Jephta (writer on Trackers and Die Ellen Pakkies Storie, and director of the upcoming feature Barakat) is executive producer and showrunner, co-directing alongside Ephraim Gordon (Sara Se Geheim, Suidooster), with SAFTA-winning DOP Chris Lotz (Jan, The Endless River, Rage, Shoreline) behind the camera. Nagvlug Films (Rage) is producing.
Filmed along Cape Town’s Voortrekker Road and at the legendary Club Galaxy in Rylands, the 13-part series unfolds through an organic, hyper-local mix of Afrikaans and English, with a nostalgic Cape jazz soundtrack guaranteed to take you back to your own time on the Galaxy dancefloor as you try figure out who the murderer is.
The Nevers S1 | First on Showmax | Episodes 1 and 2 launch 19 April; new episodes every Monday until 17 May
The Nevers is a six-part HBO fantasy series that’s been dubbed “The Magicians meets Bridgerton” by Refinery29.
In the last years of Victoria’s reign, London is beset by the Touched: people – mostly women – who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities, some charming, some disturbing.
Among them are Amalia True (Laura Donnelly from Outlander), a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly from Vikings), a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces – to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place.
Created and executive produced by Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), The Nevers’ ensemble cast also includes some top British talent.
The Handmaid’s Tale S4 | Binge Episodes 1-3 from 29 April 2021, with a new episode to follow every Monday
The cultural phenomenon picks up where we left off, with June’s fight for freedom against Gilead. But the risks she takes bring unexpected and dangerous new challenges, and her desire for justice and revenge threaten to consume her and destroy her most cherished relationships.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale has won 75 awards to date, including 12 Emmys and Golden Globes for Best Drama Series and Best Actress (Elisabeth Moss). The series holds an 8.4/10 score on IMDb and an average critics’ rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Emmy nominees Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski are back in their Emmy-nominated roles as Fred Waterford and Serena Joy, as are Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel, Bradley Whitford and Samira Wiley in their Emmy-winning roles as Aunt Lydia, Emily, Commander Lawrence, and Moira respectively.
The Victim | Binge from 1 April
Scottish thriller The Victim centres on Anna Dean, a grieving mother who finds herself on trial for attempted murder after exposing the supposed new identity and address of the man she believes murdered her son 15 years ago.
The four-part miniseries stars Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winner Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), who won the Best Actress Award at BAFTAs Scotland for her role.
Nominated for a 2020 BAFTA, The Victim has a 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it “a riveting and relevant drama.”
Divorce S3 | 1 April
Comedy-drama Divorce returns for its third and final season.
Four-time Golden Globe winner Sarah Jessica Parker was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Frances, whose affair precipitates a long, drawn-out divorce. Thomas Haden Church co-stars.
Season 3 has an 88% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the London Evening Standard saying, “Divorce… has been a sleeper hit, and that’s because it has found the magic ingredient of successful sitcoms: a plot that rings true and great comic timing.”
Hightown S1 | Binge from 23 April
Set in the beautiful but bleak Cape Cod, Hightown follows Jackie Quiñones, a hard-partying addict whose journey to sobriety is overshadowed by a murder investigation. The murder mystery is executive produced by multiple-Emmy winner Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s produced everything from the CSI franchise and worldwide reality phenomenon The Amazing Race to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Already renewed for a second season, Hightown stars Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D), James Badge Dale (The Departed, 24), and Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Deception). Hightown has an 80% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with numerous critics praising Monica Raymund’s stellar performance.
Charmed S3 | Binge Episodes 1-10 from 23 April
This teen favourite reboot of the popular original series follows three sisters, Macy, Mel and Maggie who, following the death of their mother, discover they are a powerful trio of good witches known as The Charmed Ones. With the help of their guide, a Whitelighter, the three must embrace their destiny to protect the innocent from the forces of evil.
Also look out for these Emmy-winning classics:
Band of Brothers: At #3 on IMDb’s list of the top-rated TV of all-time, with a 9.4/10 rating from nearly 400 000 people, Band of Brothers is HBO’s World War II classic that won best miniseries at both the Emmys and Golden Globes, and earned Damian Lewis (Billions, Homeland) his first Best Actor Golden Globe nomination.
House of Saddam: an Emmy-winning miniseries that explores the inner workings of Saddam Hussein’s family and his relationship with his closest advisers.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always | 15 April
Never Rarely Sometimes Always follows a pair of teenage girls from rural Pennsylvania as they travel to New York City to seek medical help after an unintended pregnancy.
The film has a 99% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has won 25 awards, including the US Dramatic Special Jury Award at Sundance and the Jury Grand Prix at Berlin in 2020. It was also nominated for three Critics’ Choice awards, including for Sidney Flanigan as Best Actress.
Variety calls it “a quietly devastating gem”; Indiewire slammed its Oscar snub as “a crime”; and Rolling Stone says, “Eliza Hitmann’s devastating abortion drama, starring a wonder of an actress named Sidney Flanigan, is an emotional wipeout that’s impossible to forget.”
Motherless Brooklyn | First on Showmax | 1 April
Written and directed by lead actor and triple Oscar nominee Edward Norton, Motherless Brooklyn tells the story of a lonely private detective with Tourette’s Syndrome, who’s determined to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.
The all-star cast includes Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Golden Globe winner Bruce Willis and Willem Dafoe. Based on the award-winning novel by Jonathan Lethem and set in 1950s New York, Motherless Brooklyn was nominated for a 2020 Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep | 12 April | Day after M-Net Sunday Night
Stephen King’s horror classic Doctor Sleep picks up years after the events of The Shining, as a now-adult, alcoholic Dan Torrance finds himself protecting a young girl from a cult known as The True Knot, who remain immortal by preying on children with powers.
Doctor Sleep picked up multiple accolades on the horror circuit, including a Bram Stoker Award nomination for the screenplay by acclaimed horror writer-director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Bly Manor). The cast includes Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson.
Legacy of Lies | 22 April
The indie action thriller Legacy of Lies won multiple awards on the festival circuit last year.
Led by B-movie action star and Jackie Chan Action Movie Awards winner Scott Adkins, Legacy of Lies tells the story of ex-MI6 agent Martin Baxter, who is thrown back into the world of espionage and high stakes to uncover the shocking truth about operations conducted by unknown secret services.
Legacy of Lies has an 86% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with over one million views for its YouTube trailer.
Dark Waters | 29 April
Triple Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo stars as corporate defence attorney Rob Bilott, who takes on an environmental lawsuit against an unscrupulous chemicals company in the modern-day Erin Brockovich story Dark Waters.
Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins co-star and it’s directed by Oscar nominee Todd Haynes (Carol), the legal thriller is based on the real-life case brought against DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. The film has an 89% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Also look out for these classics:
Set in rural Australia, comedy drama The Dressmaker (1 April) is a tale of haute couture and sweet revenge with the cunning deployment of a humble sewing machine. With 15 international awards under its sash, the film stars Oscar winner Kate Winslet.
The critically acclaimed coming-of-age comedy drama Lady Bird (8 April) was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Directing (Greta Gerwig, in her solo directorial debut), Best Actress (for four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan), and Best Supporting Actress (for multiple award-winner Laurie Metcalf).
The moving 2015 romantic drama The Danish Girl (8 April) is loosely based on the lives of Danish artists Gerda Wegener and groundbreaking transgender pioneer Lili Elbe. The film earned supporting actress Alicia Vikander an Oscar, with Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne nominated for Best Actor.
Gary Oldman won an Oscar for his tour de force performance as Winston Churchill in the acclaimed historical drama Darkest Hour (15 April), which also won an Oscar for Best Make-up (Oldman’s transformation must be seen to be believed), and garnered a further four nominations, including for Best Picture.
Kate Winslet also stars in Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 pandemic thriller Contagion (15 April), alongside Matt Damon and Jude Law. Thanks to COVID-19, the movie has seen a recent surge in renewed popularity.
Seminal music drama 8 Mile (19 April) won an Oscar for Best Original Song for Eminem’s Lose Yourself. The legendary rapper made his big screen debut alongside the late Brittany Murphy, as well as Oscar winner Kim Basinger.
Sci-fi thriller Ex Machina (22 April) won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Alex Garland (The Beach). Supporting actress Alicia Vikander was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her role as the uncanny AI, Ava.
Godzilla (29 April), the 2014 epic creature feature based on the Japanese kaiju franchise, was nominated for three Teen Choice awards and two Saturn Awards. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One), it stars Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Oscar winner Juliette Binoche, and more.
Based on a Nicholas Sparks bestseller, The Notebook (29 April), starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, won an MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss and eight Teen Choice Awards, including Choice Date Movie, Love Scene, Liplock and Chemistry. It’s since gone on to make numerous lists of the most romantic movie moments and best on-screen kisses of all time.
Rockville S5 | New episodes every Sunday night, from 4 April
Season 5 of the popular, SAFTA-winning Ferguson Films drama series Rockville catches up with JB (SAFTA winner Shona Ferguson) as he tries to field the aftermath of what Covid-19 did to his finances, leaving him out of money, with his business barely making ends meet and creditors knocking on the door. As the crisis threatens to cost him both his house and the fancy cars he has gifted Lindi (SAFTA nominee Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa from upcoming Showmax Original Blood Psalms), tensions rise in his marriage, and JB must ask tough questions about the survival of his family.
Isibaya S8 | Binge from 5 April
It’s the end of an era! The eighth and final season of Mzansi Magic’s hit daily drama series Isibaya is now available to binge on Showmax. Centred around powerful, feuding families in the taxi industry, Isibaya has broken countless records since its 2013 inception, winning multiple Royalty Soapie Awards and no less than 25 SAFTAs, with 11 nominations in 2020 alone. Binge all eight seasons on Showmax from 5 April.
The Station S1 | New episodes every Sunday night, from 5 April
In Mzansi Magic’s new drama series The Station, four working class heroes – Slee, Fix, Cynthia, and Caesar – inherit a petrol station from its owner and their legendary, mysterious boss, Don. They think they have it made but little do they know they’ve inherited the ghosts from his past too…
Love Island SA S1 | Binge the box set from 12 April
Sizzling singles hook up at an idyllic villa in the Cape Winelands in this local version of the internationally popular reality series Love Island. As the “Islanders” embark on the ultimate journey to try and find the perfect love, host Leandie du Randt introduces the show’s secret twists, plots and love matchups. The Islanders will be coupling up, dumping and re-coupling – for love, friendship or money – all while competing in fun challenges in a bid to be the winning couple, who share a R1 million prize.
Pastor Wants A Wife S1 | New episodes every Thursday night from 8 April
In this new reality series, pastors Aaron, Zion and Lincoln are looking for love. 12 ladies will be vying for their attention. Will they strike the perfect match, or will they have to settle for being single?
Also look out for:
A must-watch ahead of Freedom Day on 27 April, the triple-Oscar-nominated 1987 classic Cry Freedom (12 April) tells the true story of South African journalist Donald Woods’ efforts to investigate the death in custody of his friend, activist Steve Biko. Written and directed by the multiple-Oscar-winning team behind Gandhi (late director Richard Attenborough and writer John Briley), and based on the writings of Donald Woods himself, Cry Freedom stars Oscar winners Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Biko. Cry Freedom also garnered Oscar nominations for Best Score and Best Original Song.
How To With John Wilson S1 | 9 April
In HBO’s new “comedy docuseries”, How to with John Wilson, it’s apparent that the filmmaker has some issues, but he’s funny, so we’ll forgive him. In fact, it’s precisely John’s refreshing take on the world that makes us want to go along with him as he explores New York and meets its colourful inhabitants, asking life’s important questions along the way, from how to put up scaffolding to how to cook the perfect risotto.
How To With John Wilson is Rotten Tomatoes’ third highest rated docuseries of 2020, with a 100% critics’ rating. As the Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus puts it, “Surprising, thoughtful, and superbly strange, How to with John Wilson’s blend of documentary styles comes together to create a singularly delightful experience.”
Western Stars | 5 April
Bruce Springsteen fans will be swept away by Western Stars, the live, intimate concert performance of the legendary singer-songwriter and 20-time Grammy winner’s acclaimed nineteenth studio album, released in 2019.
Filmed at the artist’s own ranch, the film documents an intimate gig in a 100-year-old barn, where Bruce is backed by a band and a full orchestra as he performs all 13 songs from the album, taking us on a journey of love, loss, loneliness, family and the passage of time.
Western Stars was nominated for Best Music Documentary at the 2019 Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, where Bruce himself won for Best Narration. The film has a 94% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it “a cinematic gift for Springsteen fans”.
Fake Famous | First on Showmax | 1 April
HBO documentary Fake Famous follows a social experiment in which an actress, a fashion designer and a real estate assistant attempt to become social media influencers by buying fake followers and bots to boost their popularity.
Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, Fake Famous highlights our obsession with the number of likes, followers, and favorites we get, and how most of our online world is more fabricated than we realise.
Also look out for these classics:
Nominated for a 2018 Oscar for Best Documentary Short, Emmy winner Kate Davis’ half-hour documentary Traffic Stop (1 April) tells the story of Breaion King, a 26 year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas who is stopped for a routine traffic violation that results in King’s violent arrest. While en route to jail in a squad car, Breaion engages the escorting officer in a revealing conversation about race and law enforcement in America.
HBO’s A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (1 April) won the 2016 Oscar for Best Documentary Short. Produced by double-Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Saving Face), the 40-minute film looks at honour killings in Pakistan, following the story of one young woman who survived an attempted honour killing by her own family.
HBO documentary Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden (1 April) delves into the CIA’s two-decades long investigation of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, from 1995 until his death in 2011. This real-life spy thriller includes behind-the-scenes accounts from the CIA analysts, targeters and operatives themselves. In 2013, Manhunt won the Emmy for Outstanding Documentary.
Trolls World Tour | 8 April
Trolls sequel Trolls World Tour is a feel-good animated family musical that sees Poppy and Branch set out to unite the six musically diverse troll tribes and stop Rock Queen Barb and King Thrash from turning everyone into rock zombies.
The stellar voice cast is led by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick and Grammy winner Justin Timberlake, who was nominated for an Original Song Oscar for Can’t Stop The Feeling from the first movie.
Trolls World Tour was nominated for a 2020 People’s Choice Award for Favourite Motion Picture and for four Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature.
What else is on?
A Dangerous Son | Divorce | Dream S2 | Five Days | It Will be Chaos | Love Child | Love Crimes of Kabul | A Need for Speed | Pandora S2 | Pets United | Ripple Effect | Torn Apart: Separated At The Border
Happy Feet | Happy Feet 2
Anzel in die Boland S2 | Bulletproof S1 | Delivery Man | Mosley | The Roads Not Taken
Abandoned S1 | The Family | Die Groot Avontuur | Scooby-Doo | Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Life After Lock-up S3
Camino | Duidelik Dapper S1 | I Blew It S2-3 | Inheritance | Return to Christmas Creek | Ubizo S2
Karoobewoners S1 | Resistance
Christmas in Love | Damsel
Think Like A Dog | Vonk ‘n Ruimteverhaal
Ava | Dolphin Tale | Miss Congeniality | Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous
Please note that dates and titles are subject to change.