African animated series for US

19 June 2007

Home Box Office (HBO) has acquired Magic Cellar, a joint South African and Canadian production, for broadcast in the United States, making it the first African animated television series to be acquired by a major American network.

The series was commissioned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, SA’s Morula Pictures and Ottawa-based Chocolate Moose Media, and is directed by multi-award winning Canadian producer and director Firdaus Kharas, a specialist in inter-cultural communications.

3D meets African folk

Magic Cellar is the first 3D animated series to be based on African culture, and is based on 20 folk-tales partially collected by conducting interviews with elders in African villages.

In a deal negotiated by Kharas, the series will be shown on HBO Family in the United States and in Bermuda, bringing African culture into the homes of American families.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with HBO Family, a channel known for bringing very high quality programming to American families,” Kharas said in a statement this week. “I see this sale as another indication of the thirst for high quality multicultural programming.”

The SABC’s head of children’s content, Charles Owen, was especially pleased that their flagship programme would now be available in other parts of the world, “giving a new dimension to African story-telling”.

International awards

“The sale to HBO is very exciting for us and encouraging for other African producers as it shows that we can deliver high-end productions,” said Morula Pictures’ Adeelah Carrim.

“Hopefully, this will open the doors for other African programmes to be acquired internationally.”

Magic Cellar won 42 international recognitions in 2006-07, including two Telly Awards, two Aegis Awards, a silver plaque at Chicago Intercom and a platinum REMI Award at WorldFest Houston.

The show was voted best animated TV series at the Chicago International Children’s Festival and best animation film at the Independent Black Film festival.

It was also selected by a number of competitive festivals in 2006 and 2007, including the Berkeley Video and Film Festival, Bimini International Festival of Animation Films, Hiroshima Animation Festival and Kids First Festival in Los Angeles.

SAinfo reporter

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