February 27

Movie Magic: Six Movies Shot in Africa

By Jessica Bothma on February 27, 2018

I’m a self-confessed movie enthusiast and African aficionado and it gave me much pleasure to put together a list of movies filmed in Africa. Do you know any? Hold on to your popcorn, travellers, some are easy to spot but others may just surprise you!

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road

    The movie is set in a dry, post-apocalyptic world, so it only makes sense to film the story in a desert. But here’s the funny bit: Australia’s outback turned lush with flowers after unexpected rains, moving the set to Namibia’s legendary Namib Desert. The only changes made to Namibia’s natural beauty was the colouring of sand to a yellowish shade.

    Bonus point: Charlize Theron accidentally broke Tom Hardy’s nose on set with her elbow.sunset over Namibia's desert

  2. Blood Diamond

    This story is set in Sierra Leone and exposes the brutality of illegal diamond mines. It was difficult to film in Sierra Leone because of civil unrest and insufficient infrastructure. Mozambique and its capital, Maputo, provided the backdrop for the country instead. The illegal diamond mines and American places were filmed in South African cities of Cape Town and Port Edward in KwaZulu-Natal.

    Table Mountain table cloth city view
    Image credit: Alexander Hill

    Bonus point: In KwaZulu-Natal, the crew were careful not to disturb the ecosystem while filming.

  3. The Last King of Scotland

    This movie is centered around Uganda during the 1970’s while it was under the brutal regime of dictator, Idi Amin. Staying true to the story, most scenes were filmed in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. To prepare for the role, Forest Whitaker learned to speak Swahili and even met Amin’s siblings for a first-hand account of their famous brother.

    Bonus point: Forest Whitaker stayed in character full time for three months, even offset.

    Panoramic view of Uganda's green hills
    Image credit: Achim Prill
  4. District 9

    This movie made South Africans beaming proud with seven BAFTA awards and four Academy Awards. Filmed in Johannesburg and Soweto, the story is inspired by South Africa’s history of Apartheid but with a sci-fi twist.  Scenes of the informal settlements in the movie are actual homes that were previously evacuated. District 9 certainly gives a close-up view of Gauteng’s cities – except for the huge spaceship.

    Bonus point: Out of the entire cast, William Allen Young is the only actor who is not South African.

    Skyline of Johannesburg from aerial view
    Image credit: Felix Lipov
  5. Invictus

    This movie is set in 1995 when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup. Nelson Mandela was the first black president of a newly democratic country and  South Africans banded together at this iconic match after decades of racial separation. The movie is filmed at Ellis Park Stadium (now known as Emirates Airline Park Stadium) where the match was won. Cape Town’s Robben Island also features when the rugby team visits Mandela’s prison cell where he spent 27 years.

    Bonus point: Morgan Freeman watched this movie with Nelson Mandela.

    Robben Island with Table Mountain in the background
    Robben Island with Table Mountain in the background- Image credit: South African Tourism
  6. Hotel Rwanda

    Based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed hundreds of Rwandans of Tutsi ethnic minority to keep them safe during the country’s genocide. Hotel Rwanda was mostly filmed in the capital, Kigali, while a few scenes were also filmed in Alexandra informal settlement in Johannesburg. Hotel Rwanda won 13 different awards between 2004 and 2005.

    Bonus point: The producers created the International Fund for Rwanda in 2005 to support genocide survivors.

    A view of Alexandra informal settlement in Johannesburg

    Did any of these surprise you? Let us know in the comment section below!

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About the author 

Jessica Bothma

Jessica grew up surrounded with stories and photographs of the Congo and Lake Kivu, where her grandfather experienced his childhood. After reading several National Geographic magazines, she realised her dream of travelling and writing about Africa. Jessica is proudly Deaf and fluent in South African Sign Language and hopes to master more languages. Besides being an avid reader, she loves animals and wants to experience owning as many pets as possible.

  • You, Jessica, has surely surprised me with 6 movies that took place in Africa, including proudly South Africa. Good writer!

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