Thursday, February 11, 2016

Leading African Animation Entrepreneur, Multi Award Winner & 2 Time Africa Movie Academy Awards Winner Ebele Okoye Reveals Plans For A Feature

 Every woman in a man’s profession struggles to prove her worth and Ebele Okoye’s case hasn’t been different. The multi-award winner and 2 time Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) winner, has invested years to build a profession in the film industry as an independent animation director and producer.

Ebele remembers she was 7 when she knew she wanted to become an animation filmmaker but it was almost 30 years before she could realize that dream.

“The Legacy of Rubies” (2015 Germany/Nigeria/USA), Ebele’s recent short took a while to produce but has been gathering one award after another in film festivals despite some reviews which most film makers would find discouraging. In response to her critics, Ebele says; ”Critics are there to ‘criticize’, so I take it as feedback and use it to my advantage”

In her acceptance speech at the 2015 Africa Movie Academy Awards AMAA - South Africa, Ebele said:

“I did not make this film to chase awards. I made this film, to inspire every African animator who wants to make animation films. […] It is possible that we can make quality animations that can compete with works from other parts of the

Watch the Award winning film "The Legacy of Rubies [Full Length]  Not available in all regions

Ebele strategically places the film in African Festivals not only to make a statement of what is possible but also to increase an awareness for Animation, a genre which is not always present in such festivals.

From the moment “The Legacy of Rubies” script was finished, ARTE, the biggest cultural channel of Europe acquired the first screening rights for the film.
The film which was part of the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Programme also boasts to be the first ever Nigerian/German Animation co-production. In a short festival run period after production “Rubies” has won the best Animation in numerous festivals among which are the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) Lagos and the Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF)
Another of Ebele’s short film “The Lunatic” made history in 2008 as the first ever Animation to be entered for the Africa Movie Academy Awards. The film was given the honourable mention award being the only Animation to enter that year.
Asked what further plans she has for the “The Legacy of Rubies”, Ebele said that aside the film still being open for acquisition and distribution, she has finished with it and is focusing on other projects. In the pipeline is a feature film however; she did not want to disclose the title yet.

The upcoming feature is a 60 minutes 2D Animation set in a fantasy planet rich with the rare mineral ‘Atumi’ inhabited by two warring species and controlled by the mystical sacred eagle. For your imagination it’s like Chronicles of Narnia and Pocahontas put together.
With the emphasis on bridging the cultural gap between Africa and the rest of the world through productions, this feature will predominantly have an African team. Just like “Rubies” it will also be produced by Shrinkfish Ltd Abuja, Nigeria.

[Ebele's  in Arts 21 Deutsche Welle TV]

With the current challenge of finding funders and investors for Animation production in the African market, Ebele explained there are certain strategic approaches which would help facilitate a successful animation production in Africa. She also hinted that coproductions with other countries always function better than sole dependence on African resources which are hardly made available for Animation production.
Nevertheless, she is very positive that 2016 will bring a remarkable change in the face of African animation. According to her, this is because the past few years have seen a good number of emerging talents who, with coaching will set out to do “wonders” as she put it.
Asked if she would engage any of these talents in her upcoming feature, Ebele confirmed that she has her eyes on some of them.

Watch Ebele's Appearance in "Insight Germany" Deutsche Welle TV

About Ebele Okoye

Ebele has been active as an independent animator since 2006, consistently pushing animation both in Europe and Africa. Within and outside of the film festival constellations, her works in Animation have received numerous prizes amongst which are
“The Robert Bosch Promotional Prize for Animation” for the self led German/Bulgarian co-production "Anna Blume" which won numerous prizes including the Ritter Sport Award at the 2010 Zebra Poetry Film Festival
“The DEFA research prize for animation”, for a co-operation between Germany and Estonia.
She also has received a “Recognition for outstanding media work in human rights issues” by “Redefreiheit”, an arm of Amnesty International.
She has been given the “Certificate of special recognition of outstanding service” by the United States Congress as well as by the California State Legislature twice.
Ebele Okoye is the Founder & CEO of Shrinkfish Media Lab (smedLAB), an audio visual training initiative for talents from the Sub Saharan African region as well as the founder of  The Animation Club Africa, dedicated to Animation coaching and mentoring. She is also an active media artist and gives workshops on animation as well as production management for creative and independent artists.
Driven by her passion for animation and the need to contribute to the African animation industry, Ebele Okoye holds a key position as an animation expert and consultant with the (AFC) Pan African Film Consortium

[A short codumentation of the smedLAB Animation Course 2013]

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