8 Must-see South African movies and why they’re worth a watch

Source: Supplied
Source: Supplied

We all love a good Hollywood blockbuster, but let’s be honest - we can only pretend that yellow taxis, three-month-long summer holidays and a Starbucks around every corner are things we can relate to here in SA for so long.   

South African films, on the other hand, have a close-to-home quality that often lingers a little longer and helps us feel truly immersed in the characters unlike any overseas movie.  

Here are 8 must-see local films that all share an Mzansi narrative in their own way:


Khumba, produced by South African entertainment company Triggerfish Animation Studios, tells the story of a half-striped zebra, Austin, who is blamed for a severe drought by his superstitious herd.  The name “Khumba” comes from the Zulu word meaning “skin” and according to director Anthony Silverston, the film’s underlying message is about learning to accept oneself and be comfortable in your own skin.  

Why should you watch this movie? It’s an adorable South African animation! But if that’s not enough, this film is available in English, Zulu and Afrikaans. Stream Khumba now »

Little One   

Little One, directed by Darrell Roodt, is a story about a six-year-old girl who is assaulted and left for dead outside a township in Johannesburg. The hopeless child is found by Pauline (Lindiwe Ndlovu) who rushes her to hospital and instinctively becomes her guardian when no one else is there for her.  

In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Lindiwe Ndlovu shared how she dealt with the intense subject matter of the film. “The story, as grim as it may be, is still a beautiful story. (…) It’s so current – this is what is happening in South Africa,” Ndlovu, who won a SAFTA for her role in Little One, said. Ultimately, it’s a plea for humanity.   

Why should you watch this movie? Little One was our 2013 Foreign Film Oscar entry and its storyline is unfortunately a timeless reality in South Africa – now more than ever. Stream Little One now » 

Wonderboy for President  

Wonderboy for President is a hilarious political satire in the style of a mockumentary. Wonder Boy (Kagiso Lediga) is recruited by two corrupt youth league fixers and thrust into the political playing field to become the next leader of the ANC. It also features guerrilla footage from political events and rallies with real politicians like Helen Zille, President Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema and Mmusi Maimane innocently playing supporting roles. In a City Press review, Charl Blignaut writes that this film is as hilarious as it is astute and it’s just what the doctor ordered – a belly laugh.  

Why should you watch this movie?  Nothing balances out years of political tension better than a bit of comedy. Stream Wonderboy for President now » 



Elelwani (Florence Masebe) returns to her rural family in Limpopo to introduce her boyfriend to her family and announce their plans to get married and emigrate. However, her father has other plans for her and has promised her to the local king instead. This captivating love-story, written and directed by Ntshavheni Wa Luruli, navigates through the urban-rural family dynamics that so many South Africans know all too well.  

Why should you watch this movie?  Elelwani is billed as the first Venda feature film and it’s captured by the Academy Award winning film Tsotsi’s cinematographer, Lance Gewer. Stream Elelwani now » 


Girl from Nowhere 

A general rule of thumb on South African roads is to never pick up hitchhikers. Cape Town couple Katherine and Hugh learn this lesson the hard way when they pick up a young hitchhiker (Liza) along the way to their mountain getaway. Wearing Daisy Duke shorts and an air of confidence, Liza entices the couple into the path of temptation – with disastrous consequences. 

Why should you watch this movie? Girl from Nowhere is a proudly South African indie-erotic thriller, which means lots of saucy bits with equal amounts of tension. Stream Girl from Nowhere now >>> 

Shepherds and Butchers 

During the height of Apartheid, a young prison guard embarks of a senseless shooting spree which leaves seven black men dead. British-born defence attorney John Weber is assigned to the case and has his work set out for him in proving that his client’s actions came as a result of psychological trauma inherited from his work environment. 

Why should you watch this movie? Shepherds and Sheep is an adaptation of a book of the same name and received third place in the Panorama Audience Award at the 66th Berlin International Festival. Stream Shepherds and Butchers now >>> 



Returning to her home town of Eden Rock, 19-year-old Chloe van Heerden find herself overwhelmed with the birth of her first child. Slipping into a deep depression, Chloe must deal with the paranoia she begins to experience, along with the strange voices and the fear that her baby may be haunted by a ghostly entity. 

Why should you watch this movie? Siembamba was directed by Oscar-nominated Darrell Roodt and is a modern horror film set in South African folklore. Stream Siembamba now >>> 


The Hangman 

Set in the Gallows in 1989, The Hangman follows Khetha, a black prison warder as he grapples with his reality when the truth of his father’s disappearance is brought to light on the eve of his execution.   

Why should you watch this movie? The Hangman has received praise both locally and internationally, going so far as to scoop the prize for Best Foreign Film at the LA Shorts International Film Festival. Stream The Hangman now >>>

Watch all these local movies and more on Showmax. Get a free 14-day trial if you are a first-time user when you sign up for Showmax, and if you’re a DStv Premium subscriber, get Showmax at no extra cost. DStv Compact subscribers get Showmax for R49. Sign up now »  

This post is sponsored by Showmax produced by Brandstudio24 for Channel24. 

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