Disney EMEA hosted its annual Studio Focus at this year’s Annecy Animation Festival, lamentably pre-recorded for the second edition in a row, where the company announced a pair of new African series, the sci-fi anthology series “Kizazi Moto: Generation of Fire” led by “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” co-director Peter Ramsey, and a musical kids show titled “Kiff” from South Africa.
“This year’s fest is about celebrating African animation,” said Orion Ross, VP of original programming and animation for Disney EMEA. “We would like to start with how Disney is embracing the vast talent from this continent.”
Each of the shorts in “Kizazi Moto” was created to answer one question: “What does African future look like from an African perspective?”
When discussing his involvement, Ramsey recalled a visit to the Cape Town Animation Festival where he was “blown away, reinvigorated by the people, work, the industry. There was the feeling that this place is a pot about to bubble over with creativity and the world is going to see something exciting coming from Africa.”
Creators and filmmakers of the ten shorts then engaged in a virtual discussion where they shared the vaguest of teasers about their projects and discussed their own excitement and motivation to make something entirely new that will resonate around the world, while demonstrating the diversity of storytelling available on the continent.
“Kizazi Moto: Generation of Fire” will be available worldwide on Disney Pslus in late 2022.
From Cape Town, creators and executive producers Lucy Heavens and Nic Smal excitedly joined the presentation with their newly greenlit series “Kiff,” a musical comedy show for older kids about an energetic squirrel named Kiff and her bunny bestie Barry.
“It’s about a kid who lives with her parents and goes to school, and the comedy is all in the tone and the characters that we’ve created,” Heavens explained.
“[The word] ‘Kiff’ in South Africa is slang for cool, awesome or rad, it’s the pinnacle,” Smal Said. “Like a good pair of blue jeans, it will never go out of style. That’s what the world needs. If the world comes at you with bad vibes and you show love and kindness, they got nothing.”
Smal and Heavens then shared an early clip of Kiff singing a hardcore rap track about why she is far too busy to brush her one oversized incisor before leaving the house for the day. In the end, Mom is left unswayed and Kiff retreats to the bathroom to clean her pearly white.
Series is developed and produced by Disney Television Animation in L.A. where “Phineas and Ferb” vet Kent Osborn is on board as co-producer and story editor.
Announced in February by EntertainmentOne and Frogbox, Ross also highlighted preschool series “Kiya and the Kimoja Heroes.” Scheduled to launch on Disney Junior in 2023, the show first caught Disney’s eye as part of the company’s African Story Lab, an initiative launched in 2015 to seek out and develop talent from the continent, organized by Triggerfish. In the show, 7-year-old Kiya and her two best friends use their magical headbands to become superheroes and battle villains which threaten their community.
Ross was also joined by the team working on Disney’s “Chip ‘N’ Dale” reboot. The series was first announced at Annecy in 2019 and is participating in the festival’s TV competition this year with the episode “The Ghost.” French studio Xilam Animation produces with Marc du Pontavice as Executive Producer and Jean Cayrol as Director.
Zagtoon founder and CEO Jeremy Zag was invited to tease his upcoming action series “Ghostforce,” a brightly lit and colorful action series about three teens who use Ghost-like powers to track down and capture ghosts which terrorize New York City. Zagtoon also gave a brief update on the “Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug & Cat Noir” IP, which sends its half-French, half-Chinese lead character Marinette Dupain-Cheng – Ladybug herself – East to explore her Chinese roots for the first time in franchise history
Ross also announced that both “PJ Masks” and “Gigantosaurus” are in production for their sixth and third seasons respectively, and that previously announced new series “Viking School” and “The Unstoppable Yellow Yeti” are on track for 2022 releases.