South African audiences are in for a treat when writer and director, Sunu Goneras’ highly anticipated coming of age drama, Riding With Sugar, premieres on Netflix, on 27 November 2020. Seventeen years in the making, the film boasts a celebrated cast that includes Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Black Sails, Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men, Hotel Rwanda), alongside breakout stars Charles Mnene (The Bill, Holby City, Doctors, Ahead of the Class) and Simona Brown (Guilt, the Roots remake, and Him).
Riding With Sugar is grounded in African aesthetics with powerful, visually rich scenes and an urgent undercurrent of passion and grit. The film tells the story ofa young refugee, Joshua (Charles Mnene), who has dreams of winning a BMX cycling championship as a means to finding a better life. A pivotal event redirects his fate… He meets Mambo (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), an enigmatic educator and foreigner himself who offers shelter to young refugees from all over the African continent. When Joshua meets Olivia (Simona Brown), a talented young dancer from a well-to-do family, it brings him into a world he has never known before, but their burgeoning love casts a shadow over Mambo’s agenda.
Of the experience Gonera says, “Often ‘the Mother City’ is depicted as picturesque and sometimes one dimensional with the mountain and the sea as the sole reference points. While this film certainly represents that view, it also juxtaposes it with a side of Cape Town that’s often ignored. A side where the dust and the grit prevails; down where the forgotten poor live. South African audiences in particular, will identify with the realness and familiarity of this as well as with the undercurrents of hope that make the human spirit prevail,” he continues. “We live in exciting times where stories, by Africans, have a platform to make our voices heard – our truth, dreams and aspiration are being told in ways that find credence abroad, and Netflix is leading this movement globally for African storytellers.”
Ben Amadasun who leads Netflix Licencing and Co-productions in Africa adds “As Netflix, our aim is to be strategic partners for Africa’s creative industry. We’ll continue to create new partnerships that will enhance our library with a wide variety of powerful, engaging stories from across the continent; Sunu Gonera’s Riding with Sugar is certainly one we’re proud to add to our slate.”
A cool, Afrofuturistic feature film, bursting with youthful energy, optimism and hope against all odds, Riding with Sugar is a visual masterpiece that young adults from all walks will identify with.