Substance and Structure of Animation Films in Kenya: A Study of Selected Films
Ogutu, Raphael Nakhumbi
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This study investigates the substance and structure of animation films in Kenya. Specifically it focuses on thematic analysis of Kenyan animation films narratives representations through artistic styles, using techniques like mise-en-scene, montage, narrative styles, non-diegesis, and diegesis. The analysis focused on communicative artistic form and dominant themes of social, political and cultural issues addressed by Kenyan animators, writers, and producers. The analysis of animation films from Kenya include: The legends of Ngong hills film (Bunitv 2011), films sampled from Tinga Tinga tales series: why lion roars, why chicken pecks the ground and why lizard hides under the rocks (Homeboyz Animation- first episode 2011), Greedy lords of the Jungle, Africa’s next top poet, Shadowboxing, Driving test, Miss match, Lunchtime woes, Savannah drama, Two olds (RECON-Digital 2009-2012), and Wageuzi Battle 2012 (Afrikana Digital 2011). This study also analysed advertisements about FAIBA Episode 2 caveman series, and Safaricom Sambaza (Fat boy Animations). The study addresses four key issues; the stylistic features employed by animators, animators’ use of particular communicative forms as opposed to others in addressing specific social, political, economic, and cultural issues in Kenya, audiences’ interpretation of the sampled Kenyan animation films, and themes of social and cultural issues addressed by Kenyan animators/ writers/producers through animation films. The study employs mixed research method; however, the qualitative design is the dominant approach used. The design comprises library research, thematic content analysis of selected films, focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews with selected primary school pupils, parents and filmmakers. Three theoretical perspectives, Social Cognitive Theory, the Conventionalist theory of pictorial representation, and the Neo-representation theory guided the analysis of this study. The study findings show that the Kenyan filmmakers create short experimental animation films, which focus on advertising because of its good financial returns. Kenyan animation filmmakers’ stylistic features employed, varies from animator to animator, however, the 3D animation technique is the most popular among them. Foreign animations influence children positively and negatively. The main thesis is that Kenyan animation filmmakers create film narratives on issues about the Kenyan society at large. Film animators in Kenya use both deliberate and envisaged efforts as an avenue of addressing as an avenue of addressing Greed, selfishness, Deception, and political power; Confidence in life’s challenges; Bravery, betrayal, and love; Persuasion, success and enjoyment, among others. There are popular animation characters that appeal to children, in terms of artistic character representation and storylines. This is dependent on showing animation film character’s ability to cope with social challenges and his or her physical attractiveness, and as a result, an establishment of parasocial relationship. Hence animation films serve as a platform which the Kenyan filmmaker can express themselves about issues in the Kenyan society. The study is significant in that it provides an applicable model in studies of animation films and the many socio-cultural situations of national importance.