Netflix has secured rights to original animated family musical Tunga, written by Zimbabwe-born newcomer Godwin Jabangwe, following a four-way bidding war which resulted in a mid-six figure guarantee, according to Deadline. This marks the first deal to close for any of the 22 film and TV projects developed in the Impact 1 program started by Imagine Ent.’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
Inspired by the mythology of the Zimbabwe’s native Shona people — the culture Jabangwe was raised in — Tunga tells of a young African girl by the same name who, after her father dies, must venture to a mythical city to learn the magic of summoning rain from the spiritual elders of her people, and save her village from drought. Tunga is accompanied by (and must learn to trust) Zuze, a wooden figurine that comes to life as a mischievous honey badger.
“I never dreamed that a story set in Zimbabwe, on the streets that I grew up playing soccer with a homemade ball, would get made,” said Jabangwe. “I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix to bring Tunga to life and grateful to Imagine Impact for helping me take the strand of an idea and weaving it into a tale that I truly hope the world will love.”
“We couldn’t be more thrilled for Godwin to be the first Creator to close a deal, for he is everything that an Impact writer represents. He is a unique, fresh, original voice and has an incredibly imaginative story that only he could tell, with themes that are universal,” commented Imagine Impact head Tyler Mitchell. “Tunga is going to be a remarkable animated feature and will shine a beautiful light on the people, culture and music of Zimbabwe, and we know Godwin will go on to have a bright career and continue to tell inspiring stories.”
Established by Grazer and Howard last year to open doors for new voices in film and TV, Impact pairs creators with an experienced mentor or “shaper” to help hone their projects. Jabangwe worked with shaper Kate Purdee, co-executive of BoJack Horseman and 2018 Writers Guild Award winner for Animation. Applications for Impact 2 are currently under review, with a program start date of April 1.