'Khumba' out to earn stripes
Having made South Africa's biggest-grossing film in 30 years, Triggerfish Animation Studios will release its second movie at the end of the month.
Khumba, a 3D animation, is directed by Cape Town-based Anthony Silverston and was one of only five children's movies selected for screening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.
The film about a zebra missing half his stripes premieres less than a year after the studio's first animated feature, Adventures in Zambezia. A big hit in Russia, Zambezia earned $28-million (R281-million) at the box office. Income from DVDs has not yet been added in.
Partner at Triggerfish Jean-Michel Koenig said he expected Khumba to do better than the first movie.
"It's a stronger story than Zambezia, which was not accepted into the Toronto festival, while Khumba was.
"People don't even realise there is a fully functioning animation studio in Bergvliet, Cape Town. We aim to be the best independent studio in the world."
The film contains South African jokes but it features Liam Neeson, Laurence Fishburne and other Hollywood stars as voice artists.
First-time director Silverston said Neeson and Fishburne put their voices to characters after viewing the animation. "It's a vote of their confidence."
Local comedians Nik Rabinowitz and Rob van Vuuren do the voices of two springboks.
Silverston, who studied biochemistry and microbiology and worked for a year in a genetics lab, said he had been writing the script part-time since 2005.
The story is about Khumba's journey through the Great Karoo to earn his stripes after he is blamed by his superstitious herd for a drought because he looks different. Said Silverston: "The film is about accepting one's individuality.
"We want kids to walk away with a message about feeling comfortable in their own skin."
Visual supervisor Karen Botha said it could take an entire day for an animator to give a character three seconds of movement.
The movie had a budget under $20-million, at least five times less than an American blockbuster animation. Khumba received funding from Spier films, The National Film and Video Foundation and the Industrial Development Corporation.
Triggerfish has developed Khumba-themed apps for Android devices and a computer game.
The film will open at cinemas on October 25.