BARCELONA – “Saba,” the new project of Alexis Ducord (“Zombillenium”) and Benjamin Massoubre, the editor at “Zombillenium,” and “Big Bad Fox & Other Tales,” will be offered up to potential partners and buyers at Europe’s upcoming Cartoon Movie, which kicks off March 5 in Bordeaux.
A 3D CGI animated feature project, “Saba” is produced by France’s Maybemovies, whose credits include Benjamin Renner’s “Ernest & Celestine,” and budgeted at $15 million.
The story is set in Ethiopia, then Abyssinia, in 1938, after the devastating invasion of Mussolini’s Italian army. 10-year Emelyia sets out to rescue her parents, captured by the fascist forces.
A coming-of-age experience, Emelyia’s trip will take her from Danakil Desert to the shores of the Red Sea, up to the cities of Sanaa and Marib in Yemen through the territories that once belonged to the legendary kingdom of the Queen of Saba.
In a context of war as the film builds as an epic archaeological adventure quest, Emelyia will eventually unite the different peoples of the Horn of Africa.
Maybe Movies founder and formerly Gaumont’s head of new media Henri Magalon told Variety that Ducord and Massoubre’s aim is “to represent on the big screen the diversity and cultural richness of Africa, which is too often ignored, overshadowed by cruel news; to highlight ‘positively’ a region nowadays ravaged by famine and poverty, which isn’t covered well by the media.”
Magalon added: “‘Saba’ seems to us to be the quintessence of all the projects we like to develop at Maybe Movies: an adventure film for the whole family with a double reading for children/parents where everyone will find something; an intelligent and mischievous film that doesn’t take children for fools and that gives them a taste for action.”
The goal is to build a graphic design at the same height as the background through a CGI 3D technique which would allow free and fluid framing, editing, and animation. The first artistic research was carried out by Ducord, aided by Nicolas Pawlowski, a story-boarder on ‘Zombillenium,” Ivan Gomez, a story-boarder on Jamel Debbouze’s “Why I Did (Not) Eat My Father,” Guillaume Ivernel, co-director at ‘Dragon Hunters,” and Arthur de Pins and Rémi Chayé, director of “Long Way North,” Magalon explained.
Maybe Movies has produced to date seven feature films, three animated series and several documentaries, including “Long Way North,” Philippe Aractingi live-action feature “Under the Bombs,” “Zombillenium” and the afore-mentioned “Ernest & Celestine.”
The company is also in production on the next project of Chayé, “Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” an animated Western focusing on the mythical personality of Calamity Jane, set in 1863. Budgeted at $9 million, “Calamity”’ sales are managed by Indie Sales. Denmark’s Norlum and France’s 2 Minutes animation studio and France 3 Cinema serve as co-producers.