After two years covering reduced digital editions of the Annecy Festival and corresponding MIFA market, Cartoon Brew is back in person to explore one of the market’s most continually fascinating segments: the pitching platform.
This year’s Nigeria Focus caught our eye, acting as something of an extension of 2021’s overall African animation focus at MIFA.
Below, our thoughts on three projects which stood out to us…
ULEGI: Home of Our Dreams
Director: Somtochukwu Onubogu
Format: Short film, 2d
Looking for: broadcasters, distributors, producers/co-producer
Making a strong impression at the pitches was Somtochukwu Onubogu’s Ulegi: Home of Our Dreams, a 2d animated short film set in the near-ish future of 2160. It takes place in the eponymous city, a technological marvel that floats above a now completely submerged Lagos. The rest of the world is underwater too, devastated by climate disaster and seismic events.
Interestingly, its protagonists are engineers, architects, and other big thinkers. The main character Seun is a descendant of the “Great Architect” of the floating city, and along with his friends – a seismologist and a “silent genius” – Seun goes up against the oppressive, secretive big tech company Suretech, which attempts to suppress the truth about its connection to strange seismic activity.
As many contemporary directors interested in sci-fi now do, Onubogu consciously took heavy inspiration from Into the Spider-Verse and its Sony Animation counterpart The Mitchells vs the Machines, combining their expressive mix of 2d textures with 3d cg, but “putting an African spin on it,” represented in its mix of traditional African architecture with more futuristic, geometric designs and neon tones. A mixture of speculative, Afrocentric science fiction, Ulegi looks to be one of the most ambitious concepts of the session, and a project that would be exciting to see progress.
Pepe ’N Tomati
Director: Oluwaseyi Fajimi
Format: TV series, 26x11min episodes
Looking for: broadcasters, producers/co-producers, scriptwriters
Another conscious spin on popular western animation, Pepe N’ Tomati looks to supplant the surrealist, 2d children’s fantasy of Adventure Time and The Amazing World of Gumball into a Nigerian cultural context, full of delightful Yoruba language puns and exaggerated designs based around various foods.
The director, painter, and designer Oluwaseyi Fajimi, constructed a quirky and vivid portrait of the backstory of this land of magic, one defined by ancient gods responsible for protecting local flora and fauna before tribalism broke them apart, resulting in the calling of a comet that destroyed the land and brought forth mutant monsters. A questing guild forms around the title characters, who are looking to make their fortune through monster hunting.
Beyond the creations of Pendleton Ward and Ben Bocquelet, Fajimi found their concept in the sociological makeup of the city of Lagos, the divide between the island “where the rich people live” and the mainland “where people like me live,” the director wryly explained. A fun and politically-minded children’s piece with a sense of humor as well as the potential for great depth to its world building, the project is a mix of high fantasy with Yoruba tradition and theology.
Director: Adebimpe Adebambo
Format: Feature film, 2d and 3d animation
Looking for: broadcasters, distributors, producers/co-producers, directors, scriptwriters
Budget: $10.5 million
Correction: In our original description of ‘Tejumade’, we incorrectly referenced the filmmaker’s relationship to her own father as an inspiration for the film’s narrative, which was true of another project pitched during the session, but not of ‘Tejumade.’ The current description is accurate, confirmed by the Adebambo.