The cave of wonders in Disney’s Aladdin is a good way to describe Discop Dubai 2018. Many producers and broadcasters are attending with the aim of unlocking the treasures content holds. Nick Wilson, Head of Projects at the African Animation Network believes that animation, especially from Africa, is a jewel not to be overlooked. He has spent several years getting to know the producers on the continent, and their stories. This puts him in a unique position on the Discop’s Animation Crossing Borders panel.The discussion focuses on the universality of animation as a medium to tell rich and exciting stories. The panel will discuss the various ways in which animation travels. Experts from India, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Egypt are sitting down do discuss the challenges they face as Hollywood outsiders. As well as sharing ways in which they have overcome some of these hurdles.

Animation Crossing Borders

Many of us might still remember watching the Genie in Aladdin’s antics, or the flying carpet with a personality. Or think about the feeling a favourite childhood animated series theme song conjures. It’s this connection that is behind the reach the genre has across cultural, race, and even language barriers. To tap into this is important for producers who want to foster diversity in the media landscape. This is an arena that touches billions of lives daily and influences people’s perspective of themselves and others.

Nick, from South Africa, and fellow panellist Ramy El Gabry, from Egypt, represent Africa. Outside of AAN, Nick is the executive producer of My Child TV an animation production company who has been responsible for the animated Trevor Noah at his shows. He has spent many years working towards breaking down the barriers African content has to scale to reach people outside of their local markets. Ramy is an acclaimed filmmaker who has screened his films at 26 international film festivals and has 6 awards under his belt. Ramy has been able to find international audiences through the film festival circuit. The challenge now is to have his film travel through a commercial pipeline to reach them.

These are regions that few people think about when they imagine the animation industry. The panel hopes that their discussion will be the spark that will ignite the potential of their own stories to travel. The market provides a great backdrop for the discussion with over 2000 industry players in attendance. Nick hopes that African producers will gain valuable insights into what their content requires to reach a broader market.

The other panellist, Gaurav Malhotra, from India, Anil Wanvari and Adam Khwaja, representing the United Arab Emirates give insight in how African animation relates to the rest of the developing world. This discussion is representative of the larger movement of cultures to create representation of themselves on the world stage.

It’s easy to believe as African creators that our challenges don’t exist elsewhere in the world. The more we attend markets and take part in panel like these we will realise we are not alone and perhaps find the secret combination to unlocking the potential of our stories to reaching a global audience.