Q&A with Jaime Ondarza, senior vice president for Turner Southern Europe & Africa


Turner, one of the world’s leaders in media entertainment, proudly announced its partnership with Africa Animation Network (AAN) for the FupiToons Film Festival, Africa’s first “made in Africa’ animated film festival aimed at kids under 12-years-old, hosted in partnership with Ster-Kinekor. Turner will premiere its four Cartoon Network Imagination Studios shorts at the FupiToons Film Festival which will run parallel to DISCOP Johannesburg 2017, taking place from 27 to 29 October 2017 at Ster-Kinekor, The Zone, Rosebank.

Why did Turner decide to partner with African Animation Network?

Cartoon Network holds the number one spot within the kids TV segment across Africa*and enjoys a strong following on the continent. We continually strive to create a viewing experience that resonates with our African audience. As part of our localisation strategy, Turner is putting its weight behind Africa’s growing animation industry in Africa, and there is no better way to do that than partner with one of the biggest players in local animation, African Animation Network (AAN).

Turner has been on a journey with AAN for the last year, starting with us partnering with them at DISCOP 2016 to sponsor the Animation Lounge and the Turner Kids’ 2016 Animation Pitching Competition where we invited African producers and storytellers to pitch children’s programming properties to a panel of local and international industry experts. As part of our partnership with AAN, we were exposed to some really inspiring local animation projects.

The 2016 competition saw Punch Monkey Studios named winner of the Turner Pitching Competition through their animation series project, Cloud Life, a heartening tale of reconnection between a dot.com-era corporate evil genius and his protagonist daughter. We were really impressed by Punch Monkey Studio’s amazing creative energy and made the decision to partner with them to write the scripts for the one-minute shorts of the competition winners from each of the four categories of this year’s Cartoon Network Imagination Studios competition.

Cartoon Network’s Imagination Studios, was created to inspire, motivate and celebrate the wild imaginations of children between the ages of six and 12-years-old, allowing them to conceptualise and create their very own Cartoon Network friendly character duo, similar to the ones found on Cartoon Network. The first place competition winners, from each of the four categories, will now get to see their animated creations live on TV on Cartoon Network.

Taking a step away from using our internal production capabilities to bring the winning drawings to life, we decided to continue building on our localisation strategy and through our partnership with AAN, we contracted with the Pan-African production company MyChild TV, who acted as the executive producer, coordinating all parties involved in the completion of our Imagination Studios shorts. MyChild TV, along with Punch Monkey Studios, Mindseye Creative and the local voice over artists, did an amazing job at injecting local African flavour into our first locally produced animated shorts which will premiere at the FupiToons Film Festival.

What exactly is Fupitoons and what is the desired objective of the festival?

We are excited to premiere our winning animated shorts of the Imagination Studios competition winners from each of the four categories at the FupiToons Film Festival, where we have once again teamed up with African Animation Network (AAN) and Ster Kinerkor.

FupiToons is Africa’s first kid-friendly animated short film festival which will run concurrently with DISCOP Johannesburg 2017. The name FupiToons is derived from the Swahili word “fupi” meaning short. FupiToons is an animated short film festival dedicated to screening a 90-minute block of 25 various animated shorts selected from all over Africa. The Festival will have four screenings as a launch this year; perfect for 6-12 year olds, but with exciting potential and expansion plans to open this up to other age groups in the future.

The inaugural festival will take place at the Rosebank Nouveau Theatre in Johannesburg from 27 to 29 October, with an Industry Premiere night on Thursday, 26 October.

How does Turner, in collaboration with AAN, propose to elevate the role and
visibility of African animation?

This collaboration has reinforced our investment into localising content and our commitment to further mentor the African animation industry. Through the African Animation Network (AAN) partnership, we hope to open network platforms for animation professionals and national associations from across the African continent to communicate ideas, forge connections, foster collaboration, build pipeline and generate capacity, and in so doing, propel the African animation industry forward. We hope to offer Africa’s finest talent across animation, copy writing, post production and audio creation the chance to access the industry and target audiences directly, as well as provide quality material to the local markets, thus endeavoring to build a sustainable African animation industry.

In addition to the four Cartoon Network Imagination Studios shorts set to
screen at the Fupitoons Festival, are there other local animation productions screening at the festival?

The four winning Imagination Studio animated shorts are:

– Pete and Mac – the Best Detectives in Town by Maia Janse, 11-years-old from South Africa. Mrs. Trunket has lost her most valuable possession. What is it? Where is it? Leave it to Pete and Mac, the world’s greatest llama detectives, to “crack” the case.

SMARTER PHONES – Appside Town! by Zoe-Jane Mans, 9 years old, from South Africa. If you’ve ever wondered whether banana peels are really that slippery, watch Robo and Tekna journey to the source code to find the truth and settle their bet before Dad finds out

THE GREAT ESCAPE – Adventures of the Talking Pizza by Dida Bafor, eight-years-old, from Nigeria. John and Lizzy are siblings who happen to be pizza slices. When they find themselves in a dark box, there’s only one thing on their minds: escape! And salami. Okay two things – escape and salami.

THE DODDLE DUO – Attach of the Slug Monster by Katlego Khambule, 10 years old, from South Africa. When a giant slug monster moves in on their city, Dash and Diana argue over which creative superweapon will save the day – cannonballs or cupcakes. Wait, do hugs count as a superweapon?

A total of 114 short animated films were submitted to FupiToons this year. These short films were submitted from across the African continent with submissions coming from; Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. FupiToons will be screening 25 of the 114 animated shorts submitted from all over Africa in the 90-minute block.

What is the importance of grooming African youth in the art of animation and how does Turner and AAN hope to support this outside of Fupitoons and Cartoon Network Imagination Studios?
Our partnership with AAN is a demonstration of how we are strengthening our presence across the continent, and building our local production strategy to create content that is both relevant and engaging for our African audiences. Developing local content is at the forefront of our plans for the region but we cannot do it alone as local insights are critical to tailored content that is responsive and relative to local audiences.

Following the success of Cartoon Network’s Imagination Studios, Turner is considering creating an Imagination Studios block which will be used to air local projects created in Africa on Cartoon Network Africa. This programming block will be the continuation of the creative lab we initiated this year, bringing more local content to more fans and audiences, on more screens across Africa.

How important is it to be present at DISCOP markets? What are you looking
for during the 3-day market?

DSICOP is an industry recognised platform that helps us to strengthen and build relationships with existing and potential buyers, and marketing and distribution partners. It is also a good place to identify emerging local talent to collaborate with on new projects.

This year, Turner is delighted to continue its partnership with The African Animation Network to sponsor the Animation Village, which was piloted as The Animation Lounge at DISCOP Johannesburg 2016, together with MIFA Annecy International Animated Film Festival. We’re extremely excited to host delegates from across the continent representing the widest diversity of the African animation industry and in line with the mantra “Made in Africa”.

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Chanelle Ellaya
Chanelle Ellaya is the editor of Screen Africa. She completed her BA Journalism degree at the University of Johannesburg in 2011. While writing is her passion, she has a keen interest in the media in various capacities. Chanelle is an avid social media networker and a firm believer in the power of social and online networking. Between writing and tweeting, she finds time to feed her love for live music.