African 'JIVA!' to dance into homes across world
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JIVA! is a show that will focus on street dance and young people.
The series will be the third Netflix Original African production after Queen Sono and Blood and Water, which debuts this month.
“It will resonate with people because dance is just so much a part of our lives in South Africa and it resonates all over the world. We dance at funerals and weddings. We dance when we graduate. At good and bad times, we dance. It is a joyful reminder, especially in these times where we didn’t expect this to happen; it’s a reminder that there is still joy to be had in life," said show producer Busisiwe Ntintili.
JIVA! is set to be a fun and energy-packed drama series that follows the life of a talented street dancer fighting for her dreams.
Due to coronavirus, production of the show has stopped.
“We stopped right before the president announced the lockdown. We hope to resume in a couple of months when the lockdown has lifted. We have to wait it out because we are shooting JIVA! in Cape Town and most of the actors are coming from around the country.”
Netflix has opened up its catalogue and resources to a lot more African content being seen by a global audience.
“If you look at Queen Sono as an example, global audiences are hungry for African content. For a long time they never saw it. Before we had streaming platforms you only got to see what was broadcast in your country. People in America, Asia never saw any African content. There is a hunger for seeing how people in the rest of the world live,” said the director.
She said the response for JIVA! has been phenomenal.
“We have been getting feedback from across the country and Nigeria and LA and New York so that has been very good.”
The multi-award-winning film and TV writer’s work speaks for itself.
With 20 years' experience in the industry, Ntintili has learnt a lot about making good productions.
“You can never be a 100% sure what the combination is. Sometimes it is about timing. Happiness is a Four-Letter Word was the highest-grossing black-produced film in South Africa. The feedback I got from that was black women wanting to be reflected for their glamorous lives, something they hadn’t seen before. Women in their thirties and forties having love lives. So in terms of being a hit having a subject matter that connects with people, having a good story, authentic characters and you tell the story with heart, it will find an audience.”
Ntintili’s journey started in writing, with her parents keeping the first short story she wrote as a five-year-old.
“I grew up around thinkers and people who encouraged me to be curious. I wrote a play at age 13 and fell in love with movies in my teen years.”
With all that experience comes many lessons.
“One of the biggest lessons is not to compare yourself with anyone. It always seems the next person is more successful. I’ve learnt to follow my own pace. Everyone has a different journey. Working in this industry toughens you up. There’s zero-job security so another lesson I learnt was how to be resilient.”
While production is still halted for JIVA!, Ntintili believes now is the time for people to brace themselves for the new normal.
“A lot of things in terms of entertainment are going to change,” she said.