With the art of animation exploding and taking us on imaginative journeys into the mindscape of gifted storytellers and crafted story makers, it is great to see South Africa give the world a journey into the heart and soul of Africa.
South Africa has not been a major contender internationally when it comes to 3D or animation films, but with The Adventures in Zambezia everyone is going to keep a firm eye on the local animation front.
Vibrant and sassy, with an uncomplicated wholesomeness, Zambezia is entertainment that soars. It's a fun adventure the whole family can enjoy enthusiastically, offering a tale of heroism and the search of identity that strikes an emotional chord. Escapism on the big screen needs scope and magnitude, and Zambezia is not shy to explore an exotic and vivid fictional reality that blows the mind.
An idealistic view of a hopeful future
Telling of a naïve, but high-spirited and ambitious, young falcon who travels to the famed bird city of "Zambezia" where he discovers the truth about his origins and, in defending the city, learns how to be part of a community, it is very much a reflection of our Rainbow Nation and an idealistic view of a hopeful future.
If you don't know where Zambezia is, set in southern Africa, on the edge of a majestic waterfall, nestled in the shell of an enormous baobab tree is a bustling city of birds called Zambezia. Famous for being the safest city in all of Africa, Zambezia has become the breeding sanctuary throughout the river valley where birds of every feather can flock together in harmony and peace.
The imagination of the filmmakers breaks free from the constraints of the obvious and explores the realm of fantasy, allowing the story to stand firmly on its own and take on a unique identity.
In the tradition of other animated adventures like The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole and even Rio and Happy Feet, which took us into the exclusive habitat of birds and their worldview, Zambezia takes us into world beyond the imagination.
The animation and creation of the world of Zambezia is first rate, with many flight and chase sequences taking advantage of the 3D element to open up the story and give it an epic quality that is spectacular.
The voices of international stars add gravitas to the film and allow the amusing characters to burst to glorious life and allow for some hilarious escapades.
As with the locally made animated film Jock of The Bushveld, which gave us a unique story that broke away from what we know; Zambezia gives us an endearing story of friendship, loyalty and the importance of culture and family. Zambezia offers tons of spectacle, feel-good escapism and epic adventure, and at the end of the fast-paced journey, you truly feel that you have experienced a story that touched your heart. Add to this a pleasant music score by Bruce Retief, which underscores the emotional journey, and you're in for an "amazing" experience.
It's a journey you can gladly partake in, taking a brave step forward into a rollercoaster ride that is filled with laughter, suspense and plenty of thrills as our brave hero takes on the world and shows that it is possible to live your life free as a bird.
With Zambezia, Triggerfish Animation proves that South Africa can indeed break into the international arena and produce a well-crafted proudly made local film.
Home is indeed where the heart is and Zambezia has its heart in the right place.
Behind the scenes
"Zambezia is a coming-of-age story about a young falcon who spreads his wings and ventures out towards the unknown and alluring world of 'Zambezia', only to learn a whole lot about himself and his family's history as well as 'earn his wings'," said writer-director Wayne Thornley. "I loved that this little guy was struggling to figure out who he was and trying to honour his father at the same time, which, for a time, seems impossible to do. I loved that finally, through his courage and sheer determination he actually manages it. He saves the day, figures out he's a hero and manages to "resurrect" his father. In some ways the story is really about how a father is saved by his son."
Daniel Dercksen has been a film and theatre journalist in South Africa the past 30 years and as a trainer and educator has presented regular workshops in scriptwriting and creative writing during the past 17 years.
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