Must-watch trailer: Showmax Original docuseries The Illuminated

22 February 2024

Must-watch trailer: Showmax Original docuseries The Illuminated

Showmax has just dropped the trailer for The Illuminated, a documentary series exploring different South African beliefs. 

The series starts with Israelvisie. As Japie van Zyl, aka Boerseun van Migdol on social media, says in The Illuminated, “There are many different denominations but the one thing we have in common is that we all believe we are the direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the actual descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel.”

Subsequent episodes focus on The Church of Scientology; Christ In Me Collective; network marketing businesses and corporate transformational coaching, which have some similarities with religious groups; KwaSizabantu; new evangelical churches; Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries; and The Fellowship in Hermanus. 

Watch the trailer for The Illuminated

The series finale explores how extreme religious beliefs can drive people to commit horrific acts, through the story of Hardus and Nicolette Lotter. The Lotters were convicted of murdering their parents at the encouragement of Nicolette’s boyfriend, Matthew Naidoo, who the court found had manipulated the siblings into believing he was the third son of God. 

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa, and, in the 2022 Census, only 2.9% of the population reported that they had no religious affiliation. While over 80% of South Africans identify as Christian, there are many other faiths active in our country, each with their own unique perspectives. Even within religious movements emerging from Christianity, there are often significant differences, as The Illuminated makes clear. 

“There’s a saying that you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics in polite company,” says series director Wynand Louw, head of content at POP24. “But growing up around religion is something that almost all South Africans have in common.” 

Each episode gets an insider view from both leaders and former members. As Christ In Me Collective founder Xandre Strydom says in the trailer, “This is the first time in 13 years that the media is giving us the opportunity to speak.” 

Each episode also talks to theologians, who place the movements within their broader contexts. 

The Illuminated is produced by POP24, the production company behind true-crime series like Imibuzo and Huisgenoot Ware Lewensdramas. POP24 also produced reality series like This Body Works For Me, The Mommy Club, and Bae Beyond Borders, which were in the top 10 most-watched local titles on Showmax in 2023. 

The Showmax Original premieres on 6 March 2024, with new episodes on Wednesdays. 

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