For its fourth staging, organisers of the KingstOOn Animation Festival will be looking to give voice to marginalised groups whose stories do not get told as much as they ought to. Pointing out the need for more diverse representation in the animation industry, KingstOOn’s animation specialist, Robert Reid, told The Sunday Gleaner that come April, under the theme ‘Celebrating Diversity in Animation’, the event would be looking to make its most significant impact to date by telling the stories that have gone untold for far too long.

“Strides are being made in the global film and animation industry towards increasing diversity and inclusivity. If you watch Netflix, Hulu, and Disney, you will see the effort being put into making sure the stories being told on screen are diverse. Since 2018, there has been an increased number of box office hits that focus on diverse culture. Take, for example, Black Panther, which explored the African culture, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that had a black Spiderman. There’s a great surge in the need for diverse stories and content,” he said.

But not only is there need for such content, the space also exists. “There is definitely room for more representation of groups that have largely been under-represented in film and TV, and many of the festivals around the world have begun doing that. We want to continue that trend in Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

With that said, Reid says the festival is currently accepting entries for next year’s competitions, and he wants interested persons to keep the theme in mind. “We want the entries that we will receive this year to reflect these ‘untold stories’ from these under-represented groups, and so we want to see characters reflecting the black race, etc. I have always heard the saying ‘if we don’t tell our stories, somebody else will, and they might not tell it right’, and so it is our duty to give a true representation of our people, our values, our culture,” said Reid.

The competition categories include KingstOOn Emerging Animated Content Competition (KEACC), KingstOOn International Animated Film Competition (KIAFC), and the KingstOOn Pitch Bootcamp and Competition. The latter is where the four finalists from KEACC’s best concept category will then get to pitch their ideas to a live audience of industry experts. Interested persons can view the competition rules and make their submissions at

New Talent

The emerging animated content competition is focused on giving visibility to new talent from the Caribbean. Individual entrants must be citizens of a Caribbean country. If the entrant is a group, the representative inscribing the submission on behalf of the group must be a citizen of a Caribbean country as all Caribbean countries are eligible.

The deadline for submission is February 22, 2021. In addition to the competitions, Reid said KingstOOn is also looking to attract participants in its Animation Conference, slated to run from April 21 to 25, 2021. Noting that they hope to attract 5,000 participants from across the globe this year, the animation’s specialist said that he is hoping that the virtual element to next year’s show will help them meet their target.

“Although the conference will be virtual, it’s going to have the same activities. We have the same objective of showcasing the Jamaican animation industry to a global audience and positioning Jamaica as the animation hub of the Caribbean, and so we are really looking to attract even more people to the event this year. We are hoping that with the online element, we will be able to do just that,” he said.

He adds: “We will be having several keynote speakers established in the animation world, panel discussions, and master-classes on various aspects of the industry on both the business and creative sides. The conference provides an opportunity for the participants to learn the nuances of the global animation pipeline, and so we definitely want anyone interested to register for the conference. It is totally free to sign up, and it’s a unique opportunity for you to meet and network with industry leaders you wouldn’t normally be able to interact with on the streets.”

Written by: Shereita Grizzle, Jamaica Gleaner

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