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ANIMATION

Lupita Nyong’o’s ‘Super Sema’ signs massive licensing, publishing deal

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The popular YouTube Originals series “Super Sema,” starring and executive produced by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, has appointed UTA as its North American licensing and publishing agency. UTA will work alongside global toy licensee Just Play to focus on retail initiatives and key partnerships in publishing, apparel, home, and accessories for the program, which is the world’s first children’s animated series focused on an African kid superhero.

“The series follows the world-changing adventures of an extraordinary young African girl, Sema, and her twin brother MB, who are on a mission to protect their town Dunia from the villainous Tobor.”

Fueled by STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) superpowers, Sema knows that with determination and creativity, anything is possible. “Super Sema” is produced by the next-generation startup Kukua, shepherded by a female-led team including Kukua founder and CEO Lucrezia Bisignani and Nyong’o, who is a shareholder in Kukua.

‘Super Sema’ represents a historic step forward in the world of educational children’s entertainment, and we couldn’t be happier to help bring its characters to life,” Sid Kaufman, an agent in UTA’s Ventures department, said while announcing the partnership. “We are looking forward to working with Kukua and Just Play to license and publish products that embody the show’s positive themes.”

Just Play will first introduce “Super Sema” toys, including talking dolls and plush characters, with products expected to launch across North America in fall 2022.

“From the very beginning, ‘Super Sema’ stood out as one of those shows that had that special something. They don’t come around very often, but when they do, it’s phenomenal.”

“Like UTA, we were drawn to Super Sema, who embodies strength, curiosity, innovation, and confidence,” added Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play. “We’re thrilled to partner with Kukua and UTA on this phenomenal franchise to bring the adventure-themed play of this inspiring African role model to kids all over the world.”

The animated series is the foundation of the growing edutainment franchise. “Super Sema’s” first season, made up of 20 five-minute episodes, premiered in March 2021. The second season of the YouTube Originals series, which will consist of 12 11-minute episodes, will debut this spring. Complementing the new season, Kukua will launch a series of educational videos on YouTube to help kids explore the STEAM themes and topics featured in “Super Sema.”

“From the very beginning, ‘Super Sema’ stood out as one of those shows that had that special something. They don’t come around very often, but when they do, it’s phenomenal,” noted Nadine Zylstra, YouTube Originals’ head of family, learning, and impact. “We’ve been so inspired working with the incredible Kukua team, and with tens of millions of views on their channel in just the last year, it’s been wonderful to see the rest of the world fall in love with Sema, too.”

ANIMATION

#KickstarterWatch: Gorgeous ‘Black Rain’ animated short fully-funded, eyes stretch goals

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An alien planet, an environmental disaster, and an unspeakable evil are part of this incredible project from Vortex Corp.

By Justina Terhember

VX Animation’s ‘Black Rain’ recently hit its goal on Kickstarter, and had an extra length added as stretch goals. If gorgeously-designed Afro-futuristic 2D animated 8-minute short films are your thing, then head on out HERE to make sure this brilliant project hits the mark. The world-building of this project is truly breathtaking.

‘Black Rain’ tells the story of Esan, a planet under siege by a corrupt conglomerate, and is told through the eyes of a young child named Boubini. Inspired by the tragic events surrounding the Ijaw tribe in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, it mirrors the reality in Nigeria of unprecedented environmental disasters caused by oil spills.

Spearheaded by VX Animation’s head honcho Somto Ajuluchukwu, the project also boasts of having a stellar team which includes Executive Producer Rad Sechrist (creator of Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts) and Supervisors Andy Cung (storyboard artist for Cartoon Network & Netflix) and Chris Amick (writer for Adult Swim, Dreamworks).

As promised by Ajuluchukwu early on during the project’s PR blitz, ‘Black Rain’ is slowly putting together an A-list roster of voice talent, including Nollywood stars.  

According to official material, “VX Animation is a Nigerian-based animation studio dedicated to creating authentic, and compelling animation. With award-winning animated films screened across the world and recognized in the global press, we continue to push the boundaries of our craft bringing the spotlight to Africa while creating value for an emerging industry.”

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ANIMATION

#KickstarterWatch: 8 days left to support epic animated short ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’

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With only 8 days left to the end of the Kickstarter campaign for ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’, here’s a strong recommendation to rush over there and give support.

By Justina Terhember

The Kickstarter campaign for ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’ is designed to raise funds to make possible a complete and polished 10-minute animated short film, which Spoof! will pitch to companies like Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, with the future goal of turning it into a series or full-length film. Today, with only eight days to go, it is almost fully funded. However, your support will go a long way in making the project a reality.

Do click HERE to support the Kickstarter campaign, and to also view the action-packed trailer and other features and rewards.

The director, Ayodele ‘Dream Maker’ Elegba, is also the CEO of Spoof! Studios, and he heads an incredible team that includes some of the best animation talents on the African continent. He had some words about the project: “We are a team that believes everyone can benefit from understanding the world around them. We have created ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’ to give people the chance to experience this historical story with an edge of magic and fantasy.”

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ANIMATION

RENDACON: Animators can access Lagos grants, says official

2021 is ending with a bang, as far as African animation is concerned.

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The much-talked-about animation festival RENDACON ended on a high note, and with some good news.

By Justina Terhember

2021 is ending with a bang, as far as African animation is concerned. This is because the debut of RENDACON, a brand-new animation film festival, is making waves even after ending on a high note. Attendees shared stories and photos of a great time had by many, fans and pros alike. Held at the swanky EbonyLife Place on Victoria Island, Lagos, it celebrated animation practitioners in Nigeria and proffered solutions to issues of funding and distribution that plague the emerging industry.

Executive Secretary of the National Film and Video Censors Board, Mrs. Adebukola Agbaminoja, gave the keynote address mentioned how the Lagos State governor is doing much to help bolster the creative and tech spaces. She further mentioned various grants and loans available through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, and how animated filmmakers can access them.

At the opening ceremony, founder/festival director Ayodele Elegba, popularly known as the ‘Dreammaker’, talked about his dream of having a festival in the likes of the Annecy Animation Festival, held annually in Annecy, France.

Ayodele Elegba

Elegba, who is also the founder of Lagos Comic Con, spoke about his passion for animation and how he hopes that there will be more local content in the sector in Nigeria.  To him, having a festival like RENDACON will not only bring the attention of the government but also investors and co-producers who may wish to jump into the ever-growing animation industry.

The event, which was held from the 17th to the 18th of December, saw a robust attendance enjoying over fifty panelists and speakers from the animation value chain. There also were animation professionals and enthusiasts present, discussing and sharing their challenges, and offering ways out.

Over 200 animated films were screened in three halls, over the course of the 2-day event, which ended with Elegba thanking all guests, stakeholders, and sponsors, including the French government through the Institut Français, for supporting the event and bringing the Annecy Women in Animation films to the festival. He also thanked other supporters, including EbonyLife Place, City FM, Spoof! Animation, and Trace TV.

Here are a few photos from the event:

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