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THE LEGEND OF THE SKY KINGDOM (article first published : 2004-04-6)

Look out for a trailer of trash.

The Legend of the Sky Kingdom is the first ever, full-length animated feature, created wholly from found objects and made in Zimbabwe. The film is of an incredibly high quality and has impressed the Tsar Elect of Southern African film, Anand Singh, producer of over 20 international releases, including Cry The Beloved Country. And Face. He’s currently negotiating worldwide release, which should include most parts of the UK.

Director Roger Hawkins invented what the young team at Sunrise Film now call “Junkmation”. He employed the talents of street artists from Harare, who helped create the central characters wholly from discarded objects. It’s a well known township-spawned craft, where scraps from rubbish heaps miraculously reappear as cars, planes or even handbags, and then sold on as curios. Hawkins, despite starting out with a Bsc in Agriculture, had a string of teaching, musical and advertising jobs before this project. He learned most about film from working on a BBC documentary about AIDS education, shot in Zimbabwe.

Producer Phil Cunningham is one of a resolute breed of Zimbabweans holding Zim together through this difficult period. He has a pugnacious creativity and highly efficient bullshit metre. Over the three-year shooting period, every single set, special effect, voice, animation skill and script had to be conceived, learned and followed to perfection, always for the first time. Due to budget constraints, some of the camera mounts and technology had to be designed and machined specifically for the job.

“Once we’d done the first tests, it all leaped to life,” says Hawkins. “It was the excitement of being able to do something absolutely unique that drove us through thousands of hours of painstaking animation.”

The project was entered into the recent CICAF world animation festival in Seoul, and they recorded a fifth place amongst thousands of entrants. Look out for it. - Gordon Glyn-Jones The project was entered into the recent CICAF world animation festival in Seoul, and they recorded a fifth place amongst thousands of entrants. Look out for it. - Gordon Glyn-Jones




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