Jock of the Bushveld,written and directed by Duncan McNeillie, was the first South-African animated 3D film to be screened to grimacing film enthusiasts. For a movie which took three years to complete and boasted an all-star cast (Donald Southerland, Helen Hunt, Bryan Adams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and more) Perdeby expected better. Much better. The animation was square, unnatural and struggled to convey the emotion that is implicit in the detail we’re used to seeing in contemporary animated films. In a time of exponential technological advances, this amateur attempt was hardly conspicuous when compared to other animated films such as Up or Rio. That is until Triggerfish came along – the little animation studio in Cape Town that could.

Triggerfish started back in 1996 as a stop-frame studio producing content for Takalani Sesame and commercials. The company then branched out, doing short films for international clients. Triggerfish also co-founded Animation SA, the representative body for animation in South Africa, whose purpose is to elevate animation in the country to a level where it can compete with the global market. They’ve done exactly that with their two new 3D feature-length films, Zambezia and Khumba.

Zambezia – directed by Anthony Silverston and written by Andrew Cook, Anthony Silverston, Raffaella Delle Donne and Wayne Thornley – is the story of a young Peregrine falcon (Kai) who rebels against his father and leaves home for the bird city of Zambezia. Plans are hatched and a battle ensues with a horde of evil iguanas. Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but it surpasses Jock of the Bushveld’s animation and storyline by leaps and bounds. The voice overs benefitted from a spectacular cast (Samuel L Jackson, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Abigail Breslin) but we’re not falling for that one … again. Zambezia is due for release next year.

In the meantime visit to view the trailer.

Khumba, though, will only be out in 2013 and is not, as of yet, available for scrutiny. However, judging from Zambezia, it can only get better. Khumba – directed by Anthony Silverston and written by Raffaella Delle Donne and Anthony Silverston –is about a zebra that is born with only half his stripes and is consequently blamed for the drought in the Karoo. He leaves in search of his missing stripes and embarks upon an adventure with a wildebeest and an ostrich. Originally, the concept behind Khumba was the winner of a competition in 2006 in which a story had to be submitted in 25 words or less. This concept was then expanded and adapted into a screenplay.

Khumba is one of three South African films to be presented at the Independent Film Week inNew York and the first animation script to be accepted in the week’s 30 years of existence. Both animated films from Triggerfish are being represented by the Cinema Management Group (CMG) based inLos Angeles and they have already been pre-sold to various countries all over the world, includingRussia,Indonesia,China and theMiddle East. Not bad for something South African audiences are yet to see.

The only thing left is for the animation studios to come up with a screenplay that doesn’t involve African fauna. The narrative seen from the perspective of some poor creature in the bush and its compatriots has been exhausted.

Illustration: Ezelle van der Heever

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