“Yes, my kids are big fans, naturally, and have seen Khumba many times – Benjamin is seven and Clara is five,” chuckled Stuart Forrest, who produced the 3D, computer-animated film about a zebra who has only half of his stripes.
Forrest, a former Victoria Park High School pupil and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) fine arts graduate, is especially proud that the film is now available at retail and rental stores in English, isiZulu and Afrikaans.
It is the first time Zulu children will be able to watch an animated feature in their mother tongue since Disney released a Zulu version of The Lion King 20 years ago.
“When you’re making a film, you’re always thinking about the audience and how they are going to enjoy it,” Forrest, now based in Cape Town, said on Friday.
“Children identify better, and are more engaged, with films in their home language. Every language it is released in is terrific, because it means there will be a bigger audience who’ll appreciate the film.”
Khumba took number one spot at the South African box office when it was released in theatres last year. It is still on circuit internationally and has been translated into more than 20 foreign languages.
The DVD features extras such as the movie trailer, music video The Real Me, by Loyiso, previously unreleased out-takes and a character evolution describing the personality of each quirky character.
The English version features the voice of Liam Neeson as a malicious leopard, and the voices of Jake T Austin, Anna Sophia Robb, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Buscemi, among others.
In the Zulu DVD, Khumba is voiced by Siphiwe Nkosi, best known for playing the uncle of the title character in SABC1 sitcom Nomzamo.
The Afrikaans version is voiced by well-known Afrikaans actors like Hannes Brümmer as Khumba, Rika Sennet as his mother and Lochner de Kock as the meerkat dad, while Nora the loony sheep is voiced by cabaret star Elzabé Zietsman.
Khumba is the second animated feature produced by Triggerfish Animation Studios, of which Forrest is director. Its first big hit was the globally-released Adventures in Zambezia, in 2012.
“Khumba has been a special project because we had the experience and relationships of Zambezia to draw on, so we could spend more time focused on quality and entertainment value,” Forrest said. As the film’s producer he was part of the “development process, raised the funds and put in place all the partnerships needed to make the project happen”.
Triggerfish has two more films in development. “One is about a boy who develops a special relationship with a sea monster with magical powers, and the other is an adventure movie where seals take on sharks,” Forrest said. “Both are set loosely on the South African coastline and draw on some of the magnificent scenery that we have here.”