Sesame Street hunting Jamaican animators

Kingstoon Animation and Film Festival and Sesame Workshop are expected to this week evaluate pitches from Jamaican animators for short films to be considered for season 52 of Sesame Street , the popular and highly successful children’s educational television show.

The winner will be announced at the KingstOOn Festival, scheduled to be held virtually from April 21-25.

“Jamaicans have always been credited with a phenomenal flair for creativity, but the fact that a renowned global production house like Sesame Workshop is looking to tap into the pool of Jamaican animators for content speaks to a wider recognition of the immense talent that resides in the island’s evolving creative sector,” said KingstOOn animation specialist Robert Reid.

Now in its fourth staging, KingstOOn has already cemented its place as a hub for Afrocentric content, and in 2021 is extending its reach to include other areas of diversity such as gender and inclusivity.

“Having worked with the KingstOOn Animation and Film Festival for many years, we’ve seen the wealth of amazing local talent and are so pleased to bring new voices and styles from Jamaica all the way to Sesame Street,” said the programme’s film producer Kim Wright.

The Sesame Street call for pitches for animated and mixed media shorts was open to Jamaicans, or permanent residents enrolled as students at tertiary or vocational training institutions in Jamaica. All proposals were due by March 31, 2021.

The winner will follow in the path of two Jamaican studios. The first was Listen Mi Caribbean, which, in 2019, landed a deal with Sesame Workshop to produce a live action short film which aired during Sesame Street‘s season 50.

The second studio was Liquid Light Digital, which was selected from a competitive process to produce a fully animated short film for Sesame Street’s season 52.

Sesame Workshop is the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969.

Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. It is present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically funded social impact programmes, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities it serves.

“KingstOOn will be opened by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who has emphatically articulated the importance of the creative industries, and animation in particular, to the generation of employment opportunities for our nation’s youth,” said Margery Newland, project manager for Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industries (YEDAI), the host agency for KingstOOn.

Holness will be joined at the event opening by Tahseen Sayed, World Bank country director for Caribbean countries, Latin America and Caribbean region.

The YEDAI project is funded by a US$20-million World Bank loan to the Government of Jamaica for training young Jamaicans in the digital and animation industries.

This year’s KingstOOn will also have a much-anticipated film festival featuring an array of diversity-centric animated films from the Caribbean and the rest of the world, a business exchange forum and its signature Pitch Boot Camp and Competition for the five Caribbean-based front-runners in the Best Concept category.


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