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The Legend of the Sky Kingdom

africaLucca Animation, in collaboration with Cinit and with the Centro per la Cooperazione Missionaria di Lucca (Lucca Centre for Missionary Cooperation) opens, from this edition onwards, a window on the African animation cinema. It is a too often overlooked world, yet capable to express great creativity and offering many a nice surprise, like, in example, The Legend of the Sky Kingdom, the first animated feature film made entirely in Africa. The film presents itself as an original and very good example of low cost animation, where making a virtue of necessity is the rule.

africa2The poor budget available has been , in fact, the stimulus for the creation of a technique based on recycled material: cups, light bulbs, cans, tyres, kitchen tools and so on. A practice that comes straight from the African use not to trash anything, as a good handcraftsman can turn any discarded object into a new and useful one. Every character and every single scenery, all realised with great care and attention to the details, is built up with recycled material: this is the junkmation technique (using a word created on purpose by the film authors from the union of the two words junk and animation). No special effect nor digital magic is present in this feature, highly fascinating and genuine. The film has been shot in Zimbabwe between 1999 and 2002 with a crew of just 15 people, including young artists, animators, technicians, all working under eclectic director Roger Hawkins. The plot is based on a book by Phil Cunningham - who has also cared the screenplay of the film - and talks about three orphan children living in a slave-like condition in the Underground City ruled by an evil emperor.  Inspired by tales on a mysterious Prince Ariel and his Sky Kingdom they decide to escape and start a journey on the search for this legendary place. Two travel mates join them, the tramp adventurer Italiano and Badza, together with a guide-bird called Gugu and Telly, an advice distributing  television.

africa3All of them will have to face challenges and obstacles, amidst inaccessible and hostile places - jungles canyons, deserts, islands - in a sort of leg trip that will inevitably bear an inner change: Blockhead, the leader of the group, learns to listen to the others and thinking before acting; Lucy manages to overcome fear and shyness; Squidge, the younger sister of Blockhead, grows up and becomes the more optimist in the group, the one who never gives up. Although this is a fable, it is not hard to recognize, besides the initial conditions of the three kids, the same conditions shared by thousands of African children, victims of exploitation and abuse. The very story appears to be a metaphor of the African society, fighting for a lost identity but also for a land that must be re-conquered through awareness of each one's own condition and a common and shared path. There is actually a lot besides this well narrated adventure and his characters; something that  talks about a land rich in tales and history, with a hard present but a still to be built future.


Mediateca Regionale Toscana
Regione Toscana
Città di Lucca
Città di Lucca