South African Animation Studio Wins International Film Award

Mama K's Team 4 on Netflix. Image sourced from Quartz.

Annecy International Animation Festival has awarded South African animation studio, Triggerfish, the Mifa Animation Industry Award.

“This is to highlight the pioneering role that the company has played in animation in South Africa, and Africa most widely,” says Véronique Encrenaz, head of Mifa.

Previous recipients include Christopher Meledandri, founder of Illumination (Despicable Me); the co-founders of Aardman, Peter Lord and David Sproxton (Wallace & Grommet); Marc Bonny, the creator of Gebeka Films (My Life As A Courgette); Eric Beckman, founder of GKIDS (Wolfwalkers); and  Women in Animation (WIA).

Handing over the 2021 award to Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest, Véronique celebrated the studio’s animation, which she says has “already earned a constellation of prizes.” Triggerfish’s first two films, Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba, sold nine million cinema tickets globally.

Triggerfish also produced the upcoming 2021 feature Seal Team and animated the Academy Award-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes, as well as much-loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptations, like the 2021 Annie Awards winner The Snail and the Whale, 2020 International Emmy winner Zog, the BAFTA-nominated and Annecy-winning Stick Man, and the Rose d’Or-winning The Highway Rat, all produced by Magic Light Pictures.

Triggerfish Makes Strides into Supporting African Animation

Véronique praised the way Triggerfish had helped with “structuring an industry to give all its professionals support”, playing key roles in setting up key pillars of the animation industry in South Africa, like the industry association AnimationSA; the showcase and networking event AnimationXchange; and The Cape Town International Animation Festival, originally called Kunjanimation.

She also pointed to their support of The Animation School, both through bursaries and in taking on so many of their graduates.

In addition, Véronique acknowledged the impact of their free online course, Triggerfish Academy, and the Triggerfish Story Lab, a pan-African talent search that has already seen two series greenlit for the world stage: Mama K’s Team 4 for Netflix and Kiya for eOne, Disney Junior and Disney+.

“I’m feeling so proud,” says Mike Buckland, head of production at Triggerfish, after watching Véronique’s video speech.

“Sometimes you need a speech and a rabbit to remind yourself of how much you appreciate your partners and your team. Thanks to everyone who’s helped get us where we are.”

“We’ve been very fortunate to come of age in a time when the world really is looking for other voices,” says Stuart.

“We know animation has a unique ability to cross boundaries, so we’re so excited to share the new wave of groundbreaking African creatives with the world.”

Annecy Film Awards Spotlights African Animation

Annecy, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with a hybrid edition, starts this Monday, 14 June 2021. This year’s festival is spotlighting African animation, with Triggerfish featuring prominently across the screenings and sessions.

Khumba and Stick Man are two of the closing night films on Saturday, 19 June 2021. Stick Man won the Cristal for Best TV Production at Annecy in 2016, while Khumba competed for Best Film at Annecy in 2013. Another film that is screening is Belly Flop, a closing night short film at Annecy 2018, which went on to win 15 awards around the world. It’s part of Annecy’s African Animation, Today anthology, a selection of 11 contemporary animations from South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and the Congo.

Triggerfish is partnering with Women in Animation (WIA) on the 2021 Women In Animation World Summit, themed “The Business Case For Diversity” taking place on Monday, 14 June 2021.

“Triggerfish has a vision for a world where stories are predominantly told and created by the people the stories belong to, and WIA’s work in gender inclusivity and diversity takes huge steps towards that goal, particularly as it applies to the continent of Africa.”

At the WIA World Summit, Triggerfish will present a panel on African creators in animation, a conversation with African women taking centre stage with shows they have created, written, and directed.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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