International buyers snap up

18 September 2013

South African 3D animated feature film Khumba, which had its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last week, has been bought by three major international independent distributors – Australia’s Transmission, UK’s Kaleidoscope and Italy’s Eagle Pictures.

Khumba is the second 3D animated feature from Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios, whose Adventures in Zambezia was the highest-grossing South African film in 30 years and has made over US$28-million at the box-office worldwide.

Khumba competed with some of the world’s best children’s filmmakers as an official selection for the kids’ programme at last week’s Toronto festival, which was also the film’s North American premiere following its world premiere at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France in June.

“The industry response was tremendous,” Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest told the National Film and Video Foundation this week. “We’ve been able to secure significant meetings with people that we wouldn’t have been able to access just a couple of years ago. A festival like TIFF lends credibility to any filmmaker and is a great endorsement to the skills of the Triggerfish team.”

Director Anthony Silverston said that, while it was clear that the film appealed to a wide demographic, “it resonated most with children, and it was an amazing experience after the screening to be swarmed by kids asking for autographs and peppering me with questions”.

The film, featuring the voice talent of Jake T Austin, Steve Buscemi, Loretta Devine, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E Grant, AnnaSophia Robb, Catherine Tate and Liam Neeson, tells the story of a half-striped zebra (Austin) who is blamed for a severe drought by his superstitious herd.

He leaves his home in search of the magic waterhole where legend has it the first zebras got their stripes. Teaming up with an overprotective, sassy wildebeest (Devine) and a self-obsessed ostrich (Grant), the plucky young zebra meets an array of wacky characters in an unforgettable quest through the Great Karoo to earn his stripes.

Khumba releases in South Africa in both English and Afrikaans on 25 October before rolling out in more than 40 territories worldwide.

SAinfo reporter and National Film and Video Foundation