“It is clear that Africa is still experiencing challenges in getting original IP out to the international market and for many reasons, and our goal is to co-operatively create a bridge to help each other over the barriers we collectively face.” – Wendy Spinks
The African Animation Network (AAN), which made a successful debut at DISCOP Africa 2016, will this year present the very first FupiToons Festival, which will run parallel to the upcoming DISCOP Johannesburg event, scheduled to take place from 26 to 29 October 2017.
“It is the first ‘Made in Africa for Kids’ animation-only-focused festival, dedicated to screening shorts selected from all of Africa,” shares AAN head of content and festival director, Wendy Spinks.
According to Spinks, FupiToons arose from a probe regarding how much completed animation content there was in Africa; furthermore the team analysed what were the challenges, limitations and trends around the content being created.
“It is clear that Africa is still experiencing challenges in getting original IP out to the international market and for many reasons, and our goal is to co-operatively create a bridge to help each other over the barriers we collectively face,” shares Spinks.
“The FupiToons Festival will be launched in Johannesburg, but the intention is for it to roam the continent and screen the content at other conferences throughout Africa,” she adds.
AAN project manager, Nick Wilson expands: “African animation needs access to audience; it is a fundamental requirement to build a sustainable industry. Furthermore, animation is an expensive content medium, thus, the majority of African animated content is short form. This format of animated content has never really had a focused platform in Africa previously and thus, FupiToons Festival is both necessary and relevant.”
A call was made by FupiToons for submissions of the best African animated content targeted at audiences aged 2 to 12 years old.
“We decided to make the FupiToons Festival aimed and suitable for the age demographic of 2 to 12 years for many reasons, one of the main ones being that worldwide there are over 3000 broadcast platforms with dedicated children’s blocks buying content, and only a handful of broadcast platforms for anything considered not children’s, which is above 12 years of age,” explains Spinks.
Entries have since come from far and wide within the African continent, with South Africa and Ghana recorded to have pitched in the highest submissions so far.
“I have been quite pleasantly bowled over by the unique, quality and fresh styles and stories; a clear indication of the talent that lies within Africa,” Spinks enthuses.
According to global studies conducted by Women in Animation (WIA), the female population accounts for just about 65 per cent of the student body in animation schools, however only 23 per cent of those women are being placed in creative leadership roles within the industry.
“We have no firm statistics from Africa, but believe it to be significantly lower,” remarks Spinks.
However, ever since WIA rolled out its initiative of a 50/50 equal split of jobs for both genders by 2025 in 2015, AAN aspires to align itself with this vision.
This alignment has been set in motion with FupiToons’ all-female crew enthusiastically hoping to wave the flag for women in animation in Africa and thereby inspiring more females to participate in the animation space.
The chosen “shorts” will form part of the two-hour screenings which will be hosted as part of AAN’s partnership with Ster-Kinekor, and will be showcased at the cinema chain’s Rosebank facilities from 26 and 29 October 2017.
“I had approached Ster-Kinekor in 2016 as a potential partner of The Animation Lounge pilot project and precursor to the African Animation Network. Unfortunately their schedule didn’t allow for their involvement at the time but, we continued the discussions in 2017 and eventually found a common ground for us to work together,” Wilson shares.
“In the long term, we’re hoping that the first edition of the festival is a success and can be scaled-up into the rest of Ster-Kinekor’s Sub-Saharan footprint,” he adds.
During DISCOP Johannesburg’s animation activities and events Wilson will also be fostering efforts and participation towards this new addition to AAN’s animation offerings. A panel discussion titled ‘African Animation debut FupiToons Festival,’ will offer insight into the long-term strategy of what the FupiToons festival intends to project as the first animated short film festival in Africa.
“We would also like to provide a platform for African animation to engage and test audience. Running the festival in parallel to DISCOP Johannesburg also means that there are a significant number of decision makers in African content in Johannesburg and it is our intention to invite them to the Industry Premiere on 26 October,” Wilson concludes.