Proudly presented by Animation SA, The Cape Town International Animation Festival (CTIAF) kicks off this Friday, 8 March 2019, with the African premiere of Zog, Triggerfish’s latest BBC Christmas special with Magic Light Pictures.
Here are eight reasons to book your tickets while you can:
#1. Zog is based on the Julia Donaldson bestseller
Zog is based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much loved 2010 picture book, which won the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year Award and has sold over 1.5 million copies.
Zog tells the tale of a keen but accident-prone dragon who gets himself into mischief while learning how to fly, roar and breathe fire in his first three years at Dragon School. Each year he meets a kindly young girl who patches up his bumps and bruises, but can she help him with his trickiest challenge yet: it’s Year Four, and he has to capture a princess!
#2. It stars Kit Harington as Sir Gadabout
Hugh Skinner (Harlots) plays the title role; Patsy Ferran (Jamestown) is the princess with medical ambitions; Sir Lenny Henry (Broadchurch) is the narrator; Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) is the bumbling knight Sir Gadabout; Tracey Ullman is Madame Dragon; and Rob Brydon is many characters, as usual for a Magic Light special.
#3. It’s from the team behind the Oscar-nominated ‘Revolting Rhymes’
Zog is the latest BBC Christmas special to be produced by Magic Light Pictures and animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish, following on from their multi-award-winning adaptations of Donaldson and Scheffler’s Stick Man (2015) and The Highway Rat (2017), and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes (2016), which was nominated for an Oscar last year.
#4. It was nearly as popular as the Queen at Christmas in the UK
Zog placed fifth on the UK’s viewing chart this Christmas, with only 200 000 less viewers than the Queen’s Christmas broadcast. The Telegraph gave the “hypnotising, inspiring tale for all the family” five stars; Den of Geek called it “a thing of perfectly spherical loveliness; it is lovely from every conceivable angle”; The Guardian warned parents “once this has been added to iPlayer you may never be allowed to watch anything else again on your TV – ever!”; and Donaldson told The Herald that Zog was her favourite BBC adaptation to date.
#5. It’s directed by South African Daniel Snaddon, who co-founded CTIAF
Zog is directed by two-time Oscar-nominee Max Lang (The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom) and South African Daniel Snaddon (Stick Man). Friday’s screening is particularly special for Snaddon as he was the founding director of Kunjanimation, which grew into CTIAF. “When we started the festival in 2011, it was one day of workshops at Wits and two nights of screenings at Alliance Francaise. It’s been amazing to watch it grow and be accepted by the international community. This year, they have Peter Ramsey, director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – just after he won the Oscar! And Aron Warner, who produced Shrek and The Book Of Life… I’m proud of the small role I played, but festival director Dianne Makings really deserves all the credit – what she’s done with the festival is remarkable.”
#6. You’ll relate to the clumsy dragon who just wants a gold star
Snaddon’s looking forward to Cape Town audiences falling in love with Zog, the keenest but clumsiest pupil in the class, who longs to win a gold star at Dragon School. “He’s super enthusiastic and he loves what he’s doing; he’s just not very good at it,” says Snaddon. “I think a lot of us feel like that. Hopefully not all the time but certainly there are times when you know you’re falling short of your aspirations.”
#7. It’ll make your daughter want to be a doctor, not a princess
Snaddon describes Zog as “this great playing-against-type, progressive story about two people who are told by society that this is the way you do things and say, ’No, we’re going to make up our own minds.’”
But he says he’s found it funny that Zog has been hailed as a feminist story. “I’m delighted, but I do think it’s an awfully low bar if all we’re advocating is that women can be doctors,” he says. “Maybe it’s because we’re saying that being a doctor is more aspirational than being a princess. That’s cool. My father-in-law is a doctor and my sister-in-law is studying to be a doctor – it’s a very worthwhile, noble pursuit.”
He recommends Cape Tonians go watch Zog, “because it’s funny, sweet, short and sharp, and it has really good values, especially if you have kids and don’t want them to be slaves to other people’s opinions.”
#8. It’ll make you feel patriotic
“Zog really is the product of some of South Africa’s finest digital artists,” says Snaddon. “We can get behind the Springboks or the Proteas or Ryk Neethling or any of our athletes because they are exceptional people on top of their game, doing amazing things on a world stage. You should go see Zog for that same reason; it’ll make you feel proudly South African!”
Zog will have its African premiere at 8pm this Friday, 8 March 2019, at The River Club in Observatory, Cape Town. The screening will be followed by Studio Ponoc’s animation anthology Modest Heroes.