Image courtesy of FX Animation Studio

Kibwe is an upcoming UE5 animated film from Mozambique, Africa

Jimmy Thang
To highlight some inspiring Epic MegaGrant recipients, we caught up with husband and wife duo Nildo Essá and Halima Essá to discuss Kibwe, an upcoming animated movie using Unreal Engine 5 that’s being developed out of Mozambique.

According to Nildo, the CEO and owner of FX Animation Studio, Kibwe will be the first full-length animated film out of the African country. In addition, the project is primarily driven by the couple with the help of local Mozambican talent.

“I’m hoping to inspire the local community to be able to tell their own stories the way they want to tell them,” Nildo exclaimed.

Kibwe is part of FX Animation Studio’s original IP The Troublemakers. Elaborating on what the animated film is about, Halima elaborates, “Kibwe is an animated movie about a young girl who grew up not knowing about her parents, and most of the things about her past were hidden from her, so now she’s going on this amazing adventure to find out about herself.”
Image courtesy of FX Animation Studio
In terms of dynamics, Halima uses Unreal Engine and is in charge of set design. She also co-wrote the script with Nildo, the film’s director, movie editor, animator, and even mocap actor.

Speaking to some of the challenges the pair faced early on, Nildo stated, “One of the main struggles that we’ve been having over the years is that whenever we talk about our project to potential investors, they don’t take this project very seriously.”

Reflecting on the project prior to receiving the MegaGrant, Halima added, “No one would believe that a Mozambican company, especially made by young people, would do this…So we struggled a lot with funding.”

Nildo stated, “So, for us, having the MegaGrant, and having the Epic Games team behind this project basically legitimizes our project,” he added, “Kibwe is a very important project, mostly because the animation industry and movie production here in Mozambique is basically non-existent. Our local TV station would mainly show us content that comes from abroad, and we thought that our kids needed something that they would be able to identify themselves with,” adding, “We tried our best to make our characters look as African as possible and as Mozambican as possible. And for us, that’s why this project is even more important.”

Elaborating on some of the passion behind the project, Halima stated, “We don’t want this movie to be just made in Mozambique. We would like for it to be made in Mozambique by Mozambican people.”
Image courtesy of FX Animation Studio
Nildo concluded by talking about the cultural significance of the endeavor, “Working with local talent with us is very important because it means that we can prove to everyone that it’s possible to find quality talent locally, and we don’t have to outsource it to anywhere else…most productions that are done here are basically done with the help of foreign investments and that can, most of the time, compromise the vision of each project, and we don’t want to have that compromise…receiving an Epic MegraGrant was the light at the end of the tunnel. It allowed us to tell the stories we envisioned, and this, for us, is very important, as we want to be able to put Mozambique on the map, and we want people to know where we are and who we are.”

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