Streaming service Showmax is expanding its investment in Africa with its first original Kenyan series and second co-production with global broadcaster CANAL+.
Showmax and CANAL+ have begun production on Crime & Justice, a gritty police procedural and legal show set in Nairobi.
Crime & Justice features a heavy-weight cast with Sarah Hassan (Plan B, How to Find a Husband) and Alfred Munyua (Poacher, The First Grader, Sense8) starring as Makena and Silas, the two detectives at the heart of the topical show that follows one ripped-from-the-headlines case per episode, all the way through to the courtroom verdict.
“When I first read the script, I loved the delivery and realness of Silas as a character. It’s not exaggerated and he’s no Rambo hero; he just tackles his cases the normal way. I found a very real edge with this script, and I hope I’ll do justice to the role,” says Munyua.
Hassan says she is looking forward to playing a detective for the first time in her career. “This is a very different character; I’ve never played anything like Makena before. It’s very exciting to get a character that makes me grow as an actor.”
Hassan and Munyua are joined by Maqbul Mohammed (Varshita, Auntie Boss) as DCI Boss Kebo, Paul Ogola (Sense 8, Kati Kati) as Prosecutor Sokoro and Brian Ogola (Lusala, Disconnect) as Caleb, the resident pathologist, as well as the stage and screen legend John Sibi-Okumu (The Constant Gardener, The First Grader), Muhugu Theuri (Pillow Talk, Pieces of Us), Brian Abajah (Sincerely Daisy), Martin Githinji (Sue na Jonnie, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) and Justin Mirichii (Rafiki, Watu Wote) in guest roles.
Crime & Justice is directed and produced by Adam Neutzsky-Wulff, whose slate of films and series include All The Little Things We Kill, starring Elizabeth Marvel (House of Cards, Homeland), and You Are Here, starring Teen Choice nominee Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars, iZombie, The Originals), Peter Vack (Love Life, The Bold Type), Lea Thompson (Switched at Birth, Back to the Future) and MTV Movie Award winner William Baldwin (Dirty s3xy Money, Gossip Girl, Parenthood).
Working alongside Adam in the production team is an all-star Kenyan crew, including co-producer Maureen Wanjiku (Subira, Kenya’s 2019 Oscar entry, East Africa’s Got Talent); two-time Kalasha award-winning lighting technician Walter Odhiambo (Plan B, 40 Sticks); cinematographer Sammy Maina (Lost in Africa, Country Queen), who’ll be taking over from Helge Gerull after episode 2; art director Eugene Oyoo (Kenya’s 2018 Oscar entry Supa Modo); and casting director Lorella Jowi (Watu Wote, Kenya’s first Oscar-nominated film).
While this is the first Kenyan Showmax Original, it is not the first foray into original Kenyan content for the MultiChoice Group, Showmax’s parent company. With more than 25 years of experience in Kenya with its video entertainment businesses GOtv and DStv, MultiChoice produces more than 10 original Kenyan productions each year, including some of the most popular series on its flagship East African channel, Maisha Magic, like Kina, Selina, Pete and Chozi. Showmax subscribers benefit from this wealth of content, as many of these much-loved shows are also available on the standalone streaming service.
“We are fundamentally an African business and are invested in telling African stories that reflect the lives, languages and cultures of the continent. We believe in African talent and look forward to shining the international spotlight on not only Kenyan stars, but the Kenyan technical industry’s capabilities,” says Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO for General Entertainment and Connected Video. “We believe that streaming video is a powerful way to deliver these shared stories. This is one of many more Showmax Originals we have in the pipeline across Africa.”
Crime & Justice follows the announcement of the first CANAL+ and MultiChoice co-production earlier this year, Blood Psalms, which will premiere on Showmax in 2023.
Based on ancient African mythology, Blood Psalms is an epic 10-part series that chronicles the rise to power of a fierce teenaged princess, Zazi (Bokang Phelane from Keeping Score, Emoyeni), who battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through ancient curses, long-standing tribal vendettas, and the wrath of the Gods.
CANAL+, which will distribute Crime & Justice to its French-speaking base, is also committed to entertainment in Africa. Fabrice Faux, Chief Content Officer of CANAL+ INTERNATIONAL, says, “As part of our strategy of providing our subscribers with the best original content from the continent, we are proud to partner with Showmax and enrich myCanal as well as CANAL+ channels with such premium series.”
All eight episodes of Crime & Justice will be available on Showmax and CANAL+ in 2023.
Other upcoming Showmax Originals include I Am Laycon, Showmax’s first Nigerian Original, a reality series about the most recent Big Brother Naija winner; the long awaited second season of SAFTA Best Comedy winner Tali’s Wedding Diary; the small-town psychological thriller DAM; the neo-noir murder mystery Skemerdans; and Uthando Lodumo, a reality series about Gqom queen Babes Wodumo and her fiancé Mampintsha, all expected in 2023.