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Kariba: A modern African fairytale in the making

Update: Off the back of their viral animation trailer, the Blue Forest Collective have launched a Kickstarter campaign to turn Kariba into a graphic novel. Find out more and contribute here.

Kariba is a modern African fairytale inspired by a mixture of historical events, African folklore and pure imagination. It’s a proposed feature-length animated film developed in house by the Blue Forest Collective, a group of local animators and professionals.

“When conflict between ambitious dam-builders and the tribes they have displaced worsen, the spirit of the river leaves a fearless daughter on its banks. Helped by the foreman’s son and guided by dreams, she must embark on a perilous journey to the source to uncover the solution to the feud and find her true identity.”

The story is inspired by the 1950s Kariba Hydro-Elecrtic Dam and the local Tonga legend that surrounds it. During construction the dam wall was mysteriously destroyed twice and the local Tonga people believe that it was the river spirit, Nyami-Nyami who was angry at being separated from his wife, Wasi, further down river who broke the wall causing the river to flood.  

Kariba brings together reason and myth to reawaken the sense of wonder and connection that children feel towards nature. The film aims to provide children with a rich, fun and fantastical world in which nature is not something that is outside, but a power to be discovered and nurtured within.

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Kariba began as a set of animatics by Daniel Clarke, but from the start he knew that this was a project that he couldn’t complete on his own. “Several of my friends had similar qualms with the types of animated films that were being produced and had similar ambitions to do something that we believed was different and worthwhile,” he explains; hence the Blue Forest Collective was born. Yet to be concretely defined, the general idea for the collective is premised on a sharing of interests and intentions and pooling skills to help each other develop and realise their respective passion projects.  

The Blue Forest Collective intends to make films that are different to those produced by big American studios, which the collective feel are more determined by genre than medium and follow a prescriptive formula of gag humour in CG animation with a strong moral message that is neatly resolved at the end. Currently, the Blue Forest Collective comprises Daniel Clarke, Jac Hamman, Charl Collocott and Daniel Snaddon.  

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Daniel explains how the group wants to challenge these tropes: “We don’t believe that children need things to be so explicitly spelled out for them or that they can’t deal with a certain level of complexity or ambiguity. This is not to say that we don’t want to make entertaining films, just that we want to make films that attempt something more, something worthwhile, without patronising our audience. Children already watch far too many films, so if we are going to add to the frenzied noise of media consumption there is almost an obligation to try and impart some sort of truth through our characters and films.”  

Kariba has been submitted to the Annecy International Animated Film Festival for funding to develop the feature-length film. For now the teaser trailer gives an insight into the magical world of life along the banks of the Zambezi River.  

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Full Credits:

Story/Director: Daniel Clarke / Animation Director: Jac Hamman / Compositing/vfx: Charl Collocott / Animation: Daniel Snaddon / Backgrounds: Daniel Clarke / Effects animation: Mind’s Eye Creative / Music: Pressure Cooker Studios / Sound: Matthew Gair / Final Mix: Simon Ratcliffe / Special thanks to Kwabena Sarfo, Sarah Scrimgeour and Zolna Minik for helping us with colour when it came to crunch time! Also a special thanks to Thea Nicole De Klerk for her expert advice and support regarding Zimbabwe and specifically Lake Kariba.  


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