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SA animation up for International Emmy

Zog, an animated movie created by Cape Town’s Triggerfish Studios, has been nominated for an International Emmy.

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Zog has already won Best Animation at the Shanghai International TV Festival and the Audience Award for ages 3-6 at the New York International Children’s Film Festival.

Co-directed by two-time Oscar nominee Max Lang (The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom) and multi-award-winning South African Daniel Snaddon (Stick Man), Zog is competing against Grizzy and the Lemmings (France), Jorel’s Brother (Brazil), and Lamput (India). The winner will be announced on 31 March 2020 in Cannes, France. 

“We’re delighted,” says Stuart Forrest, CEO of Triggerfish. “We hope this latest nomination encourages more South Africans to try out animation, using our free digital learning platform and upcoming 10-second animation competition.”

Zog is the keenest but clumsiest pupil in his class at Dragon School, where he longs to win a gold star as he learns how to fly, roar and breathe fire. He keeps meeting a kindly young girl who patches up his bumps and bruises, but can she help him with his trickiest school assignment yet: capturing a princess?

The short film is based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s 2010 picture book, which sold over 1.5-million copies and won the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year Award in the UK.

Hugh Skinner (Fleabag) plays the clumsy dragon; 2019 Olivier award winner Patsy Ferran (Jamestown) is the kindly young girl; Kit Harington (Jon Snow in Game of Thrones) is the bumbling knight Sir Gadabout; Sir Lenny Henry (Broadchurch) is the narrator; and Tracey Ullman is Madame Dragon.

The film premiered on BBC last Christmas to five-star reviews, 8.8m viewers and the highest share (37%) of any programme across Christmas week on British television. In South Africa, the short premiered at The Cape Town International Animation Festival in March 2019 and on Showmax in August.

It is the fourth in a string of BBC Christmas adaptations animated by Triggerfish for Magic Light, following the multi-award-winning Donaldson-Scheffler adaptations Stick Man (2015) and The Highway Rat (2017), as well as the Oscar-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes (2016), which also won the International Emmy in 2018.  

Zog is available to stream on Showmax.

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Black Widow trailer debuts

The latest movie from Marvel, Black Widow, has been teased in a trailer and a movie poster.

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Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller “Black Widow” — the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei aka The Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz as Melina. The film is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige.

Black Widow is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and showcases how Romanoff deals with being on the run and forced to confront her past.

The film will be in cinemas on 1 May 2020.

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The Righteous Gemstones – Streaming on Showmax

The Righteous Gemstones, HBO’s most watched comedy debut in three years, has just landed on Showmax.

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The Righteous Gemstones, HBO’s most watched comedy debut in three years, tells the story of a world-famous televangelist family with a long tradition of deviance, greed and charitable work – all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Now streaming on Showmax in South Africa, The Righteous Gemstones was recently renewed for a second season, after earning an 8.1/10 rating on IMDb, an 81% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a place on Best of the Year lists everywhere from Hypebeast to Rotten Tomatoes.  

Creator Danny McBride (Vice PrincipalsEastbound & Down) stars as Jesse, the eldest of three grown Gemstone offspring, who looks to lead in his father’s footsteps but finds his past sins jeopardising the family ministry.  

Adam DeVine (Pitch Perfect, Modern Family) and Edi Patterson (Vice Principals) co-star as Jesse’s siblings, Kelvin and Judy, while John Goodman (Roseanne10 Cloverfield Lane) plays Jesse’s father, televangelist Eli Gemstone (and appears three decades younger in an extended flashback, thanks to ground-breaking de-ageing VFX). 

“The Gemstones are a world-famous televangelist family,” says McBride, who also wrote and directed the pilot. “They started out from humble beginnings and have slowly but surely built a humongous empire spreading the good word. The church used to be run by Eli Gemstone and Aimee-Leigh Gemstone; they were a husband and wife duo. Aimee-Leigh Gemstone has passed away and Eli finds himself in a place where he has to fill that void. He’s looking to his children to do that but all of his children come up short.”  

That combination of extreme wealth and extreme paternal disappointment has earned The Righteous Gemstones a number of comparisons to another hit HBO show, Succession. As CNN says, “It’s a superbly written and acted dark comedy that humanizes its greedy characters as much as it mocks them in preposterous plots that make for delicious television – much like Succession.” 

McBride says he grew up in a religious family, attending a Baptist church, with an aunt who is now a minister in the church. “I hope people don’t come out and think this is in any way anti-religious,” he says. “Ultimately, this is not about trying to target people’s faith and what they believe in – it’s really just targeting hypocrites and a family that has exploited religion for their own gain, which has made them lose touch with what their original mission was.” 

Goodman says McBride’s insider approach was part of the appeal of the project. “I like Danny McBride’s view on things Southern. He’s from there, he’s very observant and it’s a nice prism. He makes these people funny by never talking down or punching down – it’s just basically human nature.”  

So if you’re in need of a laugh, The Righteous Gemstones is the answer to your prayers. Can we get a Hallelujah? 

The show is streaming now on Showmax.

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