SA animated film up for major awards

2012-12-04 14:09

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Adventures in Zambezia, the groundbreaking South African 3D feature film, has been nominated for two Annie Awards.

The Annies are the world’s biggest animation awards, often predicting Oscar winners.

Extraordinarily, Zambezia is the only independent film on a list of finalists dominated by the majors like Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks.

It was created by Triggerfish Animation Studios in Cape Town and becomes the first African production to be nominated.

The film – which tells the story of a chirpy young falcon named Kai’s rites of passage – has received nods for Music in an Animated Feature Production and for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production.

“I was ecstatic and also quite surprised,” said composer Bruce Retief when contacted by City Press this morning.

“I didn’t expect an independent soundtrack to even feature alongside the majors. Not to mention that it was my first feature film ever.”

Retief – who had worked mainly on music for corporate videos – roped in Zolani Mahola from Freshlyground to perform one of the songs and also hired Zwai Bala to do his vocal arrangements.

“Their input was invaluable,” says Retief, who worked hard to keep the soundtrack “fresh and full of African elements” despite needing to appeal to a global market.

Once Zambezia was completed, it picked up a distribution deal with Sony that spans more than 40 territories.

It was decided that most of the South African voices would be replaced with big-name stars including Samuel L Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard E Grant and Leonard Nimoy.

None of these celebrities were nominated for their work this week, though. Rather it was A-list American voice artist Jim Cummings as the villain Budzo who is up for a voice acting Annie.

He is also the voice of Winnie the Pooh.

Adventures in Zambezia has opened in several international territories and raked in excellent box office results.

It is currently screening in South Korea before heading to Finland. It will open in South Africa on December 28.

Triggerfish will be following it up with their second animated feature, Khumba, the story of a zebra and his stripes.

Retief will be dusting off his tuxedo and heading for California early in the new year. Presented by The International Animated Film Society, the 40th Annual Annie Awards will be held on February 2.

The big films up for awards this year are Disney/Pixar’s Brave, DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians and Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. They each received 10 nominations.

ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania also scored big, as did Frankenweenie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits and The Rabbi’s Cat.

But no achievement outweighs Adventures in Zambezia’s.

It was made by a small, committed team on a fraction of the budget of its competition.

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