We’re only just about halfway through 2016 and already it looks like this could be the best year in the history of African animation. Much of this success has been spearheaded Triggerfish Animation Studios, a Cape Town-based film and entertainment company. They are currently developing four feature films and four TV series out of the1 378 entries they received from 30 countries across Africa. A teaser for one of the projects, Mike Scott’s A Dogshow with Cat, has already been licensed by The Walt Disney Company.
Stick Man, Triggerfish’s collaboration with Magic Light Pictures, recently won Le Cristal Award at Annecy, the top prize for a TV production at the world’s premier animation festival. This is the biggest accolade yet for the critically acclaimed short film, which recently won Best Animation at both the BANFF World Media Festival and the Shanghai International Film and TV Festival, as well as two British Animation Awards.
“This was Africa’s strongest showing at Annecy yet,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “In addition to Stick Man winning the TV category, our collaborator Clea Mallinson won the Animation du Monde pitching forum for her short, Fairy Wheels; South African Naomi van Niekerk’s powder animation, ‘n Gewone Blou Maandagoggend, won the Jean-LucXiberras Award for a First Film in the short film category. We also had a great response to the four TV series we’re developing from last year’s pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, so it’s exciting times for African animation.”
Of course South Africa did not steal all of the headlines Adama, a film set in West Africa, won the André-Martin Award for a French feature film. The story follows Adama, a 12 year-old boy that lives in a remote village in colonial francophone West Africa. When Samba, his elder brother, suddenly vanishes from the village, Adama decides to set off on an adventure to track him down. He crosses into Europe only to find the entire continent gripped by what would eventually be known as the First World War. Adama refuses to relent and decides to enlist in the French Army in hopes of finding his brother.
The last notable production showcased at this year’s Annecy Festival was Bilal: A Legend Breaks Free. Although it did not win any awards the film manged to gain a lot of positive attention. Bilal is a 3D animated film produced by Barajoun Entertainment, a Dubai based studio. The movie is based on the life of Afro-Arab Bilal ibn Rabah, a legendary figure in Islamic history. In the film Bilal and his sister, Ghufaira are abducted as children and forced into slavery. Thrown in a world corrupted by greed and injustice, Bilal realises that he must choose his own fate, and find the courage to rebel against injustice. The movie is set for worldwide release September 2016.