Netflix is deepening its commitment to talent from the motherland by signing a deal for Blood & Water, led by director Nosipho Dumisa. The second original series from South Africa will start production this year and debut globally in 190 countries in 2020.
As described by Netflix, the series is "a teen-led drama which follows a local teen uncovering her family's secret past and navigating the complicated world of a South African high school."
"Gambit Films and I are so excited to be working with Netflix on this explosive young adult drama, with not only a cool look at strong female leads but also a powerful mystery at its core," Dumisa said in a statement. "As a director who loves genre, this series combines the best of so many and isn't shy to delve into the real issues of youth culture, whilst jam-packing it with twists that will keep viewers guessing."
"We are delighted to be investing further in African content and to partner with Nosipho and the team at Gambit Films to bring our second original series from South Africa to Netflix," said Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix vice president of international originals -- Europe, Turkey and Africa, in a statement. "Great stories are universal, so we expect this gripping teen drama, with its view on contemporary high school life, to appeal to young adults from South Africa, as well as the rest of the world. Following on the heels of Queen Sono, Blood & Water is the next step in our further investment in original African content and we're excited to explore more projects across the region."
Dumisa got the world's attention with her film Nommer 37 (aka Number 37), which won the Cheval Noir jury prize for Best Director at Montreal, Quebec's Fantasia International Film Festival. The film was also nominated for Best Picture at the SAFTA Awards.
As we reported in October 2018, the film focuses on a paraplegic one-time crook named Randal (Irshaad Ally) who witnesses a dirty cop being killed by his gangster neighbor (David Manuel). Randal decides to use the crime to his advantage to blackmail his neighbor with the help of his girlfriend, Pam (Monique Rockman), and friend, Warren (Ephram Gordon). But, of course, the plan goes wrong, leaving Randal fewer and fewer options to course-correct.
Shadow and Act's Aramide A. Tinubu interviewed Dumisa ahead of the film's screening at SXSW last March. She spoke about the importance of having producers who believed in her despite others comparing her to male directors and disbelieving in her talent just because of her gender.
"I worked with one or two crew members who struggled with my authority and felt no shame in repeatedly comparing me to my male counterparts. I'm pretty tough though, and I believed in my vision wholeheartedly," she said. "It also helped tremendously that my producers and business partners always had my back. My Director of Photography and other crew whom I've worked with for years were incredible! As a woman in this industry, you have to work a little harder to be viewed as an equal--it's unfortunate."
Her Nommer 37 producing team will join her on Blood & Water, including Daryne Joshua and Travis Taute as writers and co-directors. Benjamin Overmeyer and Bradley Joshua are producers, and Simon Beesley is the lead editor.