For three weeks between 11th and 31st of May, Jean Michel Kibushi and a team of four professionals in scriptwriting, videography, sculpture, and 3D Computer Animation from Belgium and Bournemouth University travelled to the Academie des Beaux Artes in Kinshasa to work on the preproduction development of PROJECT NGANDO, directed by Jean Michel Kibushi. Project Ngando is the first feature length stop-motion film to be made in the DRC, based on an adaptation of the book Ngando by Lomami Tshibamba, the first Congolese writer. His book Ngando is set in colonial Congo written in the 1950s, but Jean Michel's adaptation will be a modernised take on the book, with resonances to current day scenarios in the DRC. The project consisted of a series of workshops delivered to writers, actors, dancers, sculptors, and painters, including students from the Academie itself.
The purpose of the time spent there was to inform and equip local artists with the professional skills required to undertake similar projects of their own. Through working on the preproduction development of the script (for animation), design and maquette building of primary characters within the narrative and studies of movement through acting workshops geared towards movement for animation, the artists were able to address aspects of their art in relation to the requirements of animation.
Each workshop ran for approximately 3 weeks, with different specialised groups of participants that were shortlisted. The process was at times frustrating due to physical restrictions, such as frequent power failure in the area, shortages of water and unreliable transport services that caused delays in the process. However not withstanding the participants were all able to actively contribute to this production and finish with tangible results that would later be implemented in the animation.
This whole process reflects Jean Michel Kibushi's ethos, one that returns to the DRC not only as a source of inspiration for his films, but to continue to expose local narratives to a local audience. This production, like his previous work, resides alongside other projects, such as the SANKURU Mobile Cinema Project, which takes a cinema, that projects African films, into rural communities in the Sankuru, Kasai Oriental Region. His work is always a considered reflection on local narratives that ring true both aesthetically and narratively to an audience from the DRC. This film will be Jean Michel's first film that is attempting to enter not only the European circuit but the global one. For this reason the development of this film has had to consider both a sense of local authenticity whilst at the same time ensuring that is does not become too specific that it does not read across audiences. One of the considerations for example is the intention to reduce the conversational elements to a bare minimum and to rely on movement to narrate the story.