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A tale full of surprises and special effects narrates the destructive consequences of fame and wealth in the life of a boy from Zanzibar.

15 – 20 | 2013 | Adventure | Dystopia | Special FX | UK

Kibwe Tavares is one of  UK’s most exciting young directors. An achitecture grad with a lifelong love of cinema, he made the dystopian sci-fi  short Robots of Brixton for his graduation. The film became instantly viral and ended up winning a special prize at Sundance 2012. Tavares has also founded, along with directors Jonathan Gales and Paul Nicholls, the ‘Factory Fifteen‘ studio, a collective of visual artists who produce innovative shorts, animations and commercials. In 2013, he was also invited to give a TED Talk. The director has a very innovative approach to storytelling and image construction with very well mixed multimedia elements with the scope to narrate relevant social issues. All these features can be found in Jonah, his latest work, that was presented at Sundance in 2013.

The story is very simple: Mbwana and Juma are two friends from Stone Town in Zanzibar, always looking for something that will change their lives. One day, after stealing a camera from a foreign tourist, they go to the seaside to take some photos. A lucky shot that portrays Mbwana along with a gigantic and bizarre fish jumping out of the water will turn out to be the breakthrough they were looking for.  In short time this mysterious creature becomes a major tourist attraction which transforms the old city into a seedy and decadent metropolis. The fame and the money the two were dreaming shortly ends up to be their nemesis with truly negative effects on their friendship, the environment around them and also on themselves.  When, in his old age, Mbwana encounters the fish again, only one can survive.

Jonah was made to illustrate the effects of tourism, globalization and turbocapitalism on developing countries, but the director chose to do so by setting a tone that swings between humor and drama, realism and visionary science fiction. Filmed on location and then animated in post production (here you can find a detailed diary of the making of the film), the short is an explosion of colors, sounds and 3D animation – a mixture of different visual techniques that support a strong and compelling narrative. The director said that: “What I’m trying to do is talk about those things that are close to me but in a much broader sense, in a way that isn’t too heavy, that’s accessible“. He truly achieved these goals with this short. Funny, heart-warming, captivating, fantastic in the way it draws the viewer into a possible future that seems so close yet so far from us, it is definitely one of the best works in recent years.

The ambient / dub soundtrack was created by Mark Sayfritz, and the protagonist is Daniel Kaluuya, a rising star of British cinema that many will remember from the talent show episode of the british series Black Mirror.

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

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