South Africa’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) have strengthened their ties with international partners by signing official partnership agreements at the 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival with Paris-based animation school Gobelins, and the French Embassy in South Africa.
The objective of both of the agreements is to grow the South African animation industry’s skills pipeline by offering training, internships and scholarships. It also presents the opportunity to strengthen ties between African animation talent, producers, schools and institutions with their French counterparts.
Earlier this year, the Precinct’s Johannesburg-based Tshimologong Animation Studio opened its doors to 20 interns to hone their visual development skills for high-end animation under the direction of recent Gobelins Masters graduate, Lesego Vorster. Co-designed in collaboration with Gobelins, the internship program is focused on establishing authentic African aesthetics through appropriate referencing and understanding of design and storytelling fundamentals. Furthermore, the internship forms part of an active role in empowering black youth in a field which was previously relatively inaccessible to them.
Tshimologong Animation Studio is strategically positioned as being between a finishing school and an internship. This gives interns first-hand experience on real-world projects, while still having the comfort of being able to use university methodology to strengthen their references as well as their workflow.
“The partnership with Gobelins offers interns strong support from one of the best schools in the world, not only in raising the standard and quality of the work to come out of the Tshimologong Animation Studio, but also to broaden the horizons of all interns,” said Vorster, Tshimologong Animation Studio Art Director.
Cécile Blondel, Head of International Relations, Gobelins, added, “South Africa is a vibrant soil of young creativity. Talents are numerous, young and passionate, promise of a very bright future and the emergence of a powerful African animation.”
The agreement between the National Film and Video Foundation and the French Embassy in South Africa addresses training needs, scholarships, skills exchange and co-production opportunities. The NFVF will contribute up to EUR16,000 (R268 000) for a scholarship for the Gobelins “Character Animation and animated filmmaking – Master of Arts” qualification, with additional funding from The Animation School (SA) and Campus France. These partners have awarded the scholarship to Karien Benz.
By joining forces, NVFV and the French Embassy SA aim to strengthen their support for the South African film and TV industry and to foster better cooperation between South African and French ecosystems in film, TV and new formats. The animation industry, because of its dynamism, creativity and international appeal both in France and in South Africa, is at the core of this new partnership. Both institutions aim to support and reinforce synergies between the respective markets and to promote consistency in the support of their development.
“South African animators have been creating soundwaves across international borders over the last decade and it’s essential that as the funding body mandated to ensure the development and growth of the film industry in South Africa, that we have partnered to create a scholarship with Gobelins,” said Joy Mawela Head of Industry Development & Promotions, NFVF. “I look forward to a beneficial partnership that will see a significant step towards the further growth of the animation sector in South Africa.”
“As South Africa’s potential in the field of animation is undeniable, especially in the development and production of original content rooted in a strong Africanisation of imagery, we see the enhancement of our cooperation with NFVF as a great opportunity to expand opportunities for creators, to promote prolific cooperation, and to bring our two markets closer together using the complementarity of their assets,” said Erika Denis, Regional Head of Media, Film & Music, French Embassy/French Institute in South Africa.
Managed by Tshimologong, Digital Lab Africa is the first pan-African acceleration program dedicated to creative content (animation, immersive content, gaming, music and web creation). As part of their mentorship program, three DLA mentees attended the Annecy Animation Festival: South African animator Lwazi Msipha (Ringa Mzansi) and Kenyan animators Naddya Adhiambo (Uzi) and Justus Macharia (Baba). They joined French and South African animation mentors Vorster, Stuart Forrest (Triggerfish Animation, SA), Isaac Mogajane (Diprente Film), Marie-Anne Fontenier (Nef Animation) and Eric Réginaud (Ciclic Animation).
“Annecy is a unique opportunity for DLA mentees to be immersed in the animation international ecosystem and meet top animation industry players. Also, partnering with the NFVF and the French embassy in South Africa in signing an agreement of this nature with the top animation school in the world, Gobelins, guarantees the quality of work our graduates will be producing.” noted Lesley Donna Williams, CEO of Tshimologong Precinct and Director of DLA.