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CT animation gets Oscar nod

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A short film that was partly animated by Cape Town’s Triggerfish has been nominated for an Academy Award. Revolting Rhymes is one of five films nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Short Film category at the 90th edition of the Oscars.

Directed by Jakob Schuh (Oscar-nominated for The Gruffalo) and Jan Lachauer (Oscar-nominated for Room on the Broom) and co-directed by Bin Han To, produced by Martin Pope and Michael Rose, Revolting Rhymes is an adaptation of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake’s classic book of surprising fairy tales.

Produced by Magic Light Pictures, Revolting Rhymes was animated at Magic Light’s Berlin studio and Cape Town’s Triggerfish. It’s voiced by a stellar cast that includes Dominic West (The Affair) as The Wolf; Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) as Red Riding Hood; and Gemma Chan (Humans) as Snow White.

“We’re beside ourselves right now, and just incredibly happy,” say Schuh and Lachauer. “Happy for the film and happy for all our fantastic collaborators here in Berlin, our producers at Magic Light, as well as our wonderful team in South Africa. It’s a pretty unreal feeling to find your labour of love has been recognised in this way. We’re deeply grateful to the Academy for this nomination. This was a hard film to make. What always steered us forward was the level of love our team had for this story – and the blessings we received from Luke Kelly, Roald Dahl’s grandson, and from the great Quentin Blake. So, for everyone’s work to receive such love in return today, it’s the most beautiful reward.”

The synopsis of the movie on the Academy Awards site (http://oscar.go.com) tells this tale: “The Wolf from the fairy tale ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ reveals the true and twisted story of his adventures and those of other characters in his world, including Snow White, Cinderella and Jack, the climber of beanstalks.”

Revolting Rhymes has already won nine major international awards: the Cristal at Annecy in France, the world’s premiere animation festival; Best Animation at the BAFTA Children’s Awards; two awards at the European Animation Awards; Best Animated Short at TIFF Kids; Best Animation at the World Banff Media Festival in Canada; Best Storytelling at Shanghai International Film and TV Festival in China; the Children’s Jury prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and the Audience Award at Filmfest Munchen.

Revolting Rhymes is also nominated for a prestigious Annie Award on 3 February 2018 in Los Angeles; a British Animation Award on 15 March in London; and an International Emmy Kids Award, which will be presented in April 2018.

“Congrats to Jakob, Jan, Bini and the amazing team at Magic Light; it was such an honour to watch and learn from them,” says Mike Buckland, head of production at Triggerfish. “We also feel immense gratitude towards our insanely hard-working, generous and talented crew, who fully deserve this recognition that their work stands up there with the best in the world. We’re hoping Revolting Rhymes‘ success will inspire many more Africans to enter the animation industry, which is growing rapidly here but still not fast enough to keep up with demand. And we can’t wait for South African audiences to finally be able to see Revolting Rhymes when it comes to Showmax in the near future.”

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Magic Light Pictures’ third collaboration with Triggerfish, The Highway Rat, premiered on BBC One this Christmas, achieving total audience ratings of 6.0 million viewers and 31.2% share for the Christmas Day premiere, making it the eighth most-watched programme of the day. An adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestseller, The Highway Rat is a swashbuckling tale of bandits and biscuits the whole family will enjoy. David Tennant (Doctor WhoBroadchurch) leads an impressive cast in the title role.

Following the success of The Highway Rat, BBC ONE and Magic Light Pictures have announced that an animated adaptation of Donaldson and Scheffler’s Zog is set for BBC One this coming Christmas.

Zog is about a loveable young dragon finding his way in a magical, yet challenging world. The animated half hour is being directed by Max Lang, Oscar-nominated director of Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo, and by South African Daniel Snaddon, co-director of Stick Man. The film is being produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures, with animation services again being provided by Triggerfish Animation in Cape Town.

Zog was first published in 2010 by Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic). It won the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year Award and has sold over 1.5 million copies. For the fourth year running, Donaldson is the UK’s number one bestselling author (across children’s and adult books). Donaldson and Scheffler are the UK’s number one picture book pair.

Check out the Revolting Rhymes trailer under Gadget’s Video of the Day.

Arts and Entertainment

Netflix to make SA series

The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.

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World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.

The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.

The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.

South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.

Pearl Thusi stars as Queen Sono in Netflix’s first original series in Africa.

“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.

“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.

The series is due to start production in 2019.

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Arts and Entertainment

Showmax shoots its first local drama

Showmax has completed filming its first commissioned drama, as it builds out its roster of original content.

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The Girl From St Agnes, Showmax’s first original drama, wrapped on 28 November 2018 after filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Johannesburg. The eight-part whodunnit premieres on Showmax on 31 January 2019. It is the second series in a programme designed to build out its roster of exclusive, original content.

As Netflix takes hold as South Africa’s preferred streaming video-on-demand service,  Showmax owner MultiChoice has made a string of strategic announcements designed to take the DStv paid satellite broadcasting service into the streaming era. Original content is critical to this strategy, as Netflix is on track to become the world’s biggest movie studio.

Showmax is available in 70 countries.

Photographer: Patrick Toselli

“Our first Original – last year’s light-hearted comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary – had the most successful launch day of any series on Showmax ever,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “This is a complete change of direction: The Girl From St Agnes is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing and taps into the current conversations in South Africa about #metoo and teen sexuality.”

At St Agnes, a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands, a popular and beautiful student is found dead at the base of the old mill. Fearful of the scandal it might cause, the school is quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld a tragic accident.

But drama teacher Kate Ballard doesn’t believe it. On the night of her death, an upset Lexi had been trying to contact her, and Kate had ignored her. Now wracked with guilt, Kate attempts to piece together the terrible truth.

The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn’t know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi’s killer won’t be the only person exposed…

Newcomer Jane De Wet was handpicked to play Lexi by legendary South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee (Tsotsi), who’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards in the last three years, for The Looming Tower and Roots.

Kate is played by Nina Milner, who modelled for Vogue Germany and at Paris Fashion Week last year and most recently starred in Troy: Fall Of A City as Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.

Jane and Nina are joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes internationally recognised South African talent like Robert Hobbs (District9), Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live), Tessa Jubber (Wallander), Karl Thaning (Dredd) and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City) opposite local favourites like Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word), Zakeeya Patel (High Rollers), Graham Hopkins (The Lab) and three-time South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) winner Jerry Mofokeng (Heist, Tsotsi), not to mention hot new talent like Paige Bonnin and Tristan de Beer.

The Girl From St Agnes is being produced by Quizzical Pictures, winners of the SAFTA for Best Drama for six of the last eight years, as well as a Peabody. Producer Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures’ managing director, is drawing on her own private school experiences, which sparked the original idea for the show. This is the first time Harriet has produced a series, rather than just executive producing, since 2009’s Hopeville, which won Best Drama and Miniseries at Rose d’Or, was nominated for an International Emmy, and was a finalist at Monte Carlo.

Catharine Cooke, who won this year’s Best Director In a TV Drama SAFTA for iNumber Number, co-directed the shoot with Cindy Lee, a commercials director helming her first drama series, having previously worked as the social media director on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror. Double SAFTA winner Gillian Breslin (Umlilo; 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) is head writer. This makes Girl From St Agnes a rare TV series commissioned, produced, written and directed by women.

“What links Girl From St Agnes, Tali’s Wedding Diary and the other Showmax Originals in the pipeline is our aim to work with the best South African talent and be the home for brave, quirky and at times edgy local stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” says Candice. “Creating new characters that audiences come to love and follow is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to establish a platform for more ‘Tali’s’ across varied genres.”

All eight episodes can be binged on Showmax from 31 January 2019.

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