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Netflix wins rights to Zimbabwean animated musical

Netflix beat out competitors in a bidding war to secure the rights to Zimbabwean newcomer Godwin Jabangwe’s musical ‘Tunga’. The musical was inspired by Zimbabwean mythology and the screenwriter’s upbringing.

Netflix has secured the rights to the original animated family musical Tunga after a four-way bidding war resulting in a mid-six figure guarantee, according to the entertainment news site Deadline Hollywood. The musical by Godwin Jabangwe is the first deal to close out of the 22 projects developed in the talent hatchery project Imagine Impact.

Imagine Impact is a global content accelerator programme that was launched by producer Brian Grazer and filmmaker Ron Howard at the Cannes Film Festival. It is an eight-week creative boot camp to discover new voices and empower content creators and narrative storytellers from around the world. Once the programme runs its course, selected creators are expected to have a developed and marketable screenplay, teleplay or presentation.

“Content acceleration is something that we really believe in, and there’s both a desire and need in the industry for it,” Ron Howard told Deadline Hollywood.

Tunga is a story inspired by Shona mythology and tells the tale of a young African girl named Tunga. After the death of her father, she must venture to a mythical lost city where her people’s spiritual elders can teach her how to summon the rain and save her village from a long-enduring drought. She is accompanied by her animal totem Zuze, a wooden figurine that comes to life as a trouble-making honey badger, who Tunga must learn to trust and work with in order to complete her journey.

Read: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Film based and set in Malawi to debut on Netflix

“I never dreamed that a story set in Zimbabwe, on the streets that I grew up on, playing soccer with a homemade ball, would get made,” Jabangwe told Deadline Hollywood. “I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix to bring Tunga to life and grateful to Imagine Impact for helping me take the strand of an idea and weaving it into a tale that I truly hope the world will love.”

Imagine Impact head Tyler Mitchell added, “We couldn’t be more thrilled for Godwin to be the first creator to close a deal, for he is everything that an Impact writer represents. He is a unique, fresh, original voice and has an incredibly imaginative story that only he could tell, with themes that are universal.”

Tunga is going to be a remarkable animated feature and will shine a beautiful light on the people, culture and music of Zimbabwe, and we know Godwin will go on to have a bright career and continue to tell inspiring stories,” Mitchell said.

Netflix has not only secured the rights to the musical but will also keep Jabangwe as the writer on the project.

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