Global movie streaming platform, Netflix has debuted Binti as Tanzania’s first ever Netflix film. The movie was produced by Black Unicorn, a production company created by two sisters- Angela and Alinda Ruhinda.
Directed by Seko Shamte, Binti won Best Feature at the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
It’s a sweet victory that follows a challenging process. Producing a film is very costly and this is something we learned while making Binti. As an all-woman producing team we are determined to highlight new and diverse voices in our growing industry
Binti, which means ‘young women’ in Swahili tells the story of four women; Tumaini (Bertha Robert), Angel (Magdalena Munisi), Stella (Helen Hartmann), and Rose (Godliver Gordian), as they navigate the many challenges of womanhood in the city of Dar-es-Salaam.
Daughter, Mother, Wife
Tumaini runs a convenience store that she is struggling to keep afloat as she is in debt. The loan sharks constantly harass her and when she turns to a man for help, his asks for sex in return, an offer that she turns down. Her father walked out on her and her mother ten years ago and she writes him a letter that they are doing fine, a testament to her strong will.
Angel is engaged and runs a bridal store and seems to have it all. However, Emma, her fiance is jealous and violent and so the relationship is abusive. Her mother constantly tells her to leave the relationship as the beatings could lead to death but Angel brushes her warnings under the carpet.
Stella has fertility issues as both natural conception and IVF procedures have failed to provide her with a child. Ben, her husband is willing to adopt but Stella will have none of that so she puts herself through a strict physical and dietary regimen. She gets pregnant but then suffers a miscarriage which spirals into depression, one that her husband can’t help her with and threatens to break their marriage.
Rose is a working mother of two boys. Running her work and household is a herculean task and her husband James offers no help. Things get further complicated when her younger son is diagnosed with a developmental condition.
The film explores different themes such as sexism- Rose earns more than her husband and pays most of their bills but he refuses to be the caregiver for their son. There is also the religious theme as Stella goes to prayer warriors to bless her womb and also seeks traditional help.
Overall, the movie speaks to the shared experiences of women and shows that there is no one way to be a woman.
Netflix in Africa
Over the last few years, Netflix has made a deliberate effort to invest in African content, from the first South Africa original show, the 2019 series, ‘Shadow,’ to Uganda’s ‘The Girl in the Yellow Jumper’ and, to the Nigerian series, ‘King of Boys’.
Statista estimates the number of Netflix subscribers in Africa to be 2.6 million. This is about 90% increase from over 1.4 million in Q1 2020, according to Digital TV Research.
However, this number represents less than 2% of the video streaming company’s global user base of about 214 million.
Due to password sharing, Netflix has not yet recorded a significant amount in profits from the continent but the company is aware of the potential hence the commitment to producing African shows.
Although profits might be a long game, the streaming giant is keen on producing more Afrocentric stories for its widespread international audience.
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