Turning junk into cinema magic

20 October 2003

South African film producer Anant Singh’s company, Videovision Entertainment, has acquired the worldwide distribution rights to The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom that opened the Durban International Film Festival this month.

The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom, produced by Zimbabwe-based Philip and Jacqui Cunningham, is directed by Roger Hawkins.

The characters and sets featured in the film have been made exclusively from junk, giving birth to the world’s newest animation style, dubbed “junkmation” by its creators, Sunrise Productions.

“We were thoroughly impressed with the ingenuity of The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom and its distinctive African flavour”, said Singh. “The filmmakers have done an amazing job in not only creating a film that is characteristically African, but a film from which a new animation style has been created for the world.”

Last month, Videovision presented The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom at prestigious festivals in North America. The film had its world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival, where it opened the African Horizons section.

Junkmation is inspired by the unique works of art created from junk in Africa, where skilled craftsmen transform pieces of junk into useful items, reports SA Film. Junk of any type – wood, metal, wire, tin, plastic, empty containers – find new life as objects of art and decoration and everyday use.

The film’s producers tapped into this art form and brought it to life to create a world unlike any other, peopled by characters recreated from junk.

The Legend Of The Sky Kingdom is a magical tale that follows the journey of a group of children on their way to find the mythical sky kingdom.

Enslaved in an underground city, Blockhead, Squidge and Lucky stage a daring escape and begin a journey that sees them pursued by the evil emperor’s hyenas as they travel through the Jungle of Despair and the Desert of Desolation.

“We are pleased to have Anant Singh and Videovision Entertainment handle the world distribution of The Legend of the Sky Kingdom, and we are thrilled to have the film selected for the Montreal World Film Festival”, the Cunninghams told SA Film.

“As junkmation was our inspiration for the film, we remained true to its art form, we decided to tap into the creative source of the style – the street artists and vendors themselves. In so doing, we combined our technical and creative expertise with the raw talent and craftsmanship of these highly original and gifted artists.

“The approach we used in The Legend of the Sky Kingdom has never been attempted anywhere in the world before, and the results are truly radical.”

Director Roger Hawkins told SA Film: “The whole ethos of our production was to ‘use what you’ve got’. I realised that we did not have vast resources or big budgets, but what we did have was the incredible ingenuity of African street artists. This inspired us and made us realise that art can always find a form to express itself.

“The idea of making a movie out of nothing really appealed to me, and I think it fired our creativity and passion in a way that proved you don’t need big money and experience – what matters is passion and determination.”

SouthAfrica.info reporter