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“Revolting” wins Emmy

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Revolting Rhymes has won the International Emmy Kids Award for Animation on Tuesday at a ceremony held during MIPTV in Cannes. 

This was Revolting Rhymes’ 12th major international award; it had previously won the Cristal at Annecy; Best Animated Special at the Annie Awards; Best One-Off Special at Kidscreen; and Best Animation at the BAFTA Children’s Awards. It was also nominated for an Oscar.

Produced by Magic Light Pictures, Revolting Rhymes was animated at Magic Light’s Berlin studio and Cape Town’s Triggerfish. 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, Revolting Rhymes is an adaptation of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake’s classic book of surprising fairy tales. 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.

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“Wow, that’s an Emmy, an Annie, an Emile, a Crystal, a BAFTA, a BAA and a Banff,” chuckles Mike Buckland, head of production at Triggerfish. “Hmm – A Baa and a Banff sounds like the next Julia Donaldson book.”

Seal Team: now hiring

“This latest award comes as we’ve just placed our first job ads for our third feature film, Seal Team,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “So it’s a further reinforcement that South Africa is making some of the best animation anywhere and we’re ready to take Africa’s stories to the world.”

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Triggerfish has produced two of the five highest-grossing South African feature films of all time: Adventures in Zambezia (2012) and Khumba (2013), but have spent the last five years honing their skills on four multi-award-winning BBC One Christmas specials produced by Magic Light Pictures: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes (2016) and the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler adaptations Stick Man (2015), The Highway Rat (2017) and, currently in production, Zog (2018).

Seal Team follows Quinn, an orphan seal who has been dodging sharks off the coast of South Africa his whole life.  When he loses his best friend to a great white shark, Quinn forms a ragtag special ops unit and does the unthinkable: fights back!

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Greig Cameron will make his feature film debut as Seal Team’s writer-director, working from a story by Wayne Thornley (Adventures in Zambezia) and Brian and Jason Cleveland, with Anthony Silverston (Khumba) as head of development.

Cameron is one of the most experienced directors of animation in South Africa, having written and directed 45 episodes of the hit series Supa Strikas, broadcast on Disney XD in over 130 territories. He was also the head writer on Moosebox, currently in production with Nickelodeon, and wrote for Sunrise Productions’ Munki & Trunk, currently on Nicktoons, as well as the cult South African show Urbo: The Adventures of Pax Afrika and the pilots for Triggerfish’s series Mama K’s Super 4, being co-produced with Cake, and Mike Scott’s Dogshow With Cat.  He also made the shortlist for the Triggerfish Story Lab with The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry, from around 1400 entries from across Africa.

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The Industrial Development Corporation, The Department of Trade and Industry and Cinema Management Group (CMG) are financing Seal Team, with CMG handling worldwide sales.

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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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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.

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“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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