Thapelo Mokoena. Picture: Supplied

The year 2020 is fast approaching and Indigenous Film Distribution has lined up a slate of must-see local films – from ground-breaking indies to more commercial fare that will appeal to all filmgoers.

“2019 was a hugely successful year for local film, and the new year looks set to continue the trend,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Production. “The industry has continued to grow and to experiment with different genres. Local audiences are making it clear that they enjoy seeing movies about themselves.”

Here is a round-up of some forthcoming releases:

First up, opening on 28 February is South Africa’s selection for the highly coveted International Feature Film category at the Oscars, "Knuckle City". Directed Mdantsane-born filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, the film is already making big waves overseas after careening at various international film festivals to much acclaim. 

The gritty crime-drama tells the story of an aging, womanising, professional boxer from the Eastern Cape and his career-criminal brother who take one last shot at success and get more than they've bargained for.

"Knuckle City" was the opener of the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in 2019 and received a standing ovation from the audience. Bongile Mantsai won best actor at DIFF for his role as the boxer. ‘The film had its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the prestigious Toronto International film Festival (TIFF) in September 2019.

The film also stars Siv Ngesi, Faniswa Yisa, Awethu Hleli, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Zolisa Xaluva, Owen Sejake and Angela Sithole. 

Next up, on March 27 , is ‘Griekwastad’, directed by award-winning director and producer Jozua Malherbe. It tells the tale of the search to find the truth behind the murders that shocked and divided a community. ‘Griekwastad’ is based on the bestselling true crime novel by Jacques Steenkamp. The film stars Arnold Vosloo as Colonel Dick De Waal, the meticulous investigating officer of the strange and sinister murder case.

‘Griekwastad’ is written by Tertius Kapp, based on the book by Jacques Steenkamp. The film also stars Daniah de Villiers, Rolanda Marais, Sisanda Henna, Crystal-Donna Roberts, Gérard Rudolf, Neels van Jaarsveld, Tim Theron, Tshamano Sebe, and Alex van Dyk.

"Flatland", directed by Jenna Bass and starring Faith Baloyi, Nicole Fortuin and Izel Bezuidenhout, opens on April 10. The indie feature took home the 'Best African Film' award at the 2019 Joburg Film Festival. 

The unique, contemporary drama, which opened Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section at the beginning of 2019, is a journey of self-discovery for three different but equally trapped women – a pregnant teenager, a young bride, and a middle-aged cop – played out against the backdrop of the Karoo. 

The film had its North American premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema selection of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Questioning issues of race, class and gender, ‘Flatland’ is a portrait of femininity set against the backdrop of a hostile frontier land, that interrogates what it means to be a woman today – in South Africa and the world at large.

"Seriously Single" stars Fulu Mugovhani, who is known to local audiences from her leading role in Ayanda (2015), a performance that earned her many awards and nominations from the Africa Movie Academy Awards, the South African Film and Television Awards and the Africa International Film Festival.

The film also stars comedian, author and producer Tumi Morake, Bohang Moeko and Yonda Thomas.

Directed by Louw Venter, ‘The Tree’, opening on 28 August, tells the story of Grace, a homeless refugee who is kidnapped on the streets of Cape Town after she sets out to earn some money to buy medicine for her child. The child, now lost, wanders the city streets alone. A policeman and his girlfriend drift apart. 

On 2 October, the much-anticipated sequel to ‘Material’, the hilarious, heart-warming hit film about a dutiful young Muslim man who moonlights as a stand-up comedian, opens. 

In ‘New Material’, Cassim Kaif (Riaad Moosa) navigates the bumpy road of balancing his chosen career as a stand-up comedian with his faith, his community and his family.

So make room for popcorn in your budget because there’s a lot to look forward to in 2020.