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SA animators making waves

The CT International Animation Festival, co-located with Comic Con, will showcase local stars making an impact globally.

South Africa’s animation industry is making waves globally by creating entertaining and meaningful content that showcases the country’s unique culture and perspectives. 

These creatives will be part of the dynamic programme at the Cape Town International Animation Festival, held from the 27 to 30 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), and collocated with Comic Con.

The impact of South African animators is not limited to their creative output. According to a report by the National Film and Video Foundation, the animation industry in South Africa is growing at a rate of 5% per year and employs over 3,000 people, creating jobs and driving innovation in the industry.

The festival will celebrate the success of local animators, including character animator and animation director, Annike Pienaar, whose work has opened doors for her to relocate to France, where she works at visual effects company, Illumination Mac Guff. She has animated on films such as Stickman (2015), The Highway Rat (2017), and the Oscar-nominated production of Revolting Rhymes (2016). Adding to her long list of credentials is her most recent contribution to the film Sing 2 (2022).

Notable local animators include Marc Moynihan and Dylan McGarry, whose animation project, Indlela Yokuphila, aims to educate the world about the cultural and spiritual significance of the oceans from the South African context. BAFTA award-winning director Daniel Snaddon and others have helped showcase the diversity of South African storytelling and brought new perspectives to the world of animation. Sneddon is best known for his work on Stickman (2015), The Snail and the Whale (2019), and Zog (2018).

Daniel Snaddon, BAFTA award-winning director

The festival offers an opportunity for global industry leaders to engage with local animators, creating a platform for connections and sharing of knowledge. South African animators like Celeste Jamneck, who is now lecturing at the Savannah College of Art and Design in the USA, attribute their career growth to the incredible work they’ve done as part of a team. 

Triggerfish Animation Studios, Africa’s leading animation studio, has gained worldwide recognition for its feature films and television shows.  Its films, such as Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba, have been distributed internationally and have received critical acclaim. As contributors to Oscar-nominated, BAFTA-nominated and Emmy award-winning productions, the animation studio has put African animation on the map once again with the Disney+ animated anthology Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire (2023), using animators from South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.

This year’s festival will see a programme dedicated to the impactful work of South African animators, with speakers including Samantha Cutler, who will be presenting alongside Snaddon on the making of The Smeds and the Smoos at the CTICC. 

The work of local animators is more than just entertaining, but also has the power to educate, inspire, and drive economic growth, as well as teach children about important issues like climate change and social justice.

‘’We’ve witnessed the incredible growth of animation in South Africa, and year after year we’re continuously impressed by the immense success local artists have achieved, and we continue to advocate for, and promote these incredible achievements’’, says Dianne Makings, director of the Cape Town International Animation Festival.

7 Quick facts about the South African animation industry:

1.      The Animation School in Cape Town has a 95% job placement rate for its graduates.

2.      Triggerfish Animation Studios has won numerous international awards for its feature films and television shows.

3.      The National Film and Video Foundation provides funding and support for local animators.

4.      Local animators have created content for major international brands, such as Coca-Cola and Nike.

5.      The South African animation industry has been featured at major international film festivals, such as Cannes and Sundance.

6.      The industry has been recognized for its diversity and inclusivity, with many animators creating content that reflects the country’s multicultural society.

7.      South African animators have won international awards for their work in fields such as character design and visual effects.

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