Penguin Films (Level 1 BEE ( highest ) contributor QSE Verification score) is one of the premiere television and film production companies in South Africa, having achieved success in the fields of long form television drama, documentary, sitcom, edutainment, talk shows, feature films, commercials, corporate & training videos and children’s programming. Viewer response to Penguin Films’ original productions has resulted in the majority of our series being commissioned for multiple seasons by broadcasters, subsequently enjoying long and successful runs. Penguin Films’ productions have achieved many local and international awards.
Penguin is acclaimed is for its work in democracy education. In 1994 they initiated the comedy drama Khululeka to educate first time voters. Khululeka was first commissioned by the Matla Trust, a trust fund set up by Former President Nelson Mandela for democracy education. Khululeka went on to become SABC’s flagship democracy education programme for sixteen years. The last series was produced in 2009 in a run-up to the 2009 national elections. Over this sixteen year period, in order to ensure that democracy education continued, Roberta Durrant together with her co-producer, Joe Mafela, raised the necessary funds for Khululeka from organizations such as Independent Electoral Commission and the Mott Foundation and SABC Education.
Penguin also instigated, initiated and created Future Imperfect, hosted by Prof Dennis Davis together with the Center for Applied Legal Studies at Wits. Future Imperfect continued to be screened for six years till 2000 through South Africa’s transition through democracy. Penguin also initiated and created together with the Department of Constitutional Affairs, 39 episodes of Constitutional Talk to educate South African voters about their new constitution. Penguin also produced the talk show, The Roundtable, focusing on key challenges facing South Africa. Penguin produced this series in consultation with the Harold Wolpe Trust.
Penguin is probably best known to South Africans for its popular sitcoms ‘Sgudi ‘Snaysi (It’s Good It’s Nice), Going Up and Madam & Eve, SOS, Fishy Feshuns, Going Up Again and Stokvel which has earned the Producer, Roberta Durrant, the title of Mama of Comedy.
Internationally Madam & Eve achieved a Rose in the prestigious 2002 Golden Rose awards in Switzerland for best sitcom from over 30 submissions from around the world. About Us, a four part comedy sketch show produced for SABC 2 received an honorable mention at the international Golden Rose Festival in the comedy category in 2005. In 2004, Stokvel was the runner-up in New York in the International Emmy Awards in the sitcom category, the first time in the history of South African television that a local programme has made the finals at the International Emmys. In 2011 Penguin will produce the eighth series of this ever-popular Stokvel. Penguin produced for SABC 2 a romantic comedy, Mazinyo dot Q, about a guy from London of African heritage, who falls in love over the internet and follows his heart to Ma Mavuso’s B&B in Gugulethu. One of the objectives of the series was to further encourage tourism opportunities in townships.
The other major project of Penguin Films is the 65 part one-hour drama series, entitled Home Affairs. Home Affairs tells the stories of six women from separate universes searching for their true identity in South Africa. Home Affairs has been a finalist in the drama category at the International Emmys four times between 2007 and 2010 in both the best drama category and best actress category. In 2007 Home Affairs was a finalist at Banff (Canada), Rose d’Or (Switzerland).
Penguin and their sister company, Paw Paw Films have won several local awards for their programming. For example, in 2010, Penguin and Paw Paw achieved 7 local SAFTA awards for excellence in television production. Paw Paw’s legal drama series, Sokhulu and Partners, won best drama and was nominated for an International Emmy Award in 2009 in the drama category.
In a build up to 2010 and the soccer world cup Penguin produced 52 one hour episodes of the soccer drama Shooting Stars for eTV.
Together with SABC Education and the Parliamentary Millennium Project Penguin produced African Sky Stories in 2005 – to communicate the rich heritage of African legends inspired by the constellation of the stars.
Between 2009 – 2011 Penguin produced Montana, a 78-part drama series for SABC 1.
Penguin and its sister company have produced several award-winning documentaries, most notably Rudyard Kipling, Lady Anne Barnard, Shiela Cussons, more recently Democracy Now, Kemang – Who Am I, The Bulhoek Massacre and Krotoa.
Penguin Films has produced three feature films, Inside Out, successfully distributed in South Africa by Ster Kinekor and internationally by Icon Entertainment, and Skilpoppe, based on the award-winning novel by Barry Hough and part of M-Net’s Local Movie of the Month initiative. And in 2012/2013, Felix, produced for Sabido productions.