South Africa's first animated film 'Tengers', that satirises life in contemporary Johannebsurg, will have its local premiere as part of the Africa on Screen Film Festival at the end of May.

Poster for Tengers
The film has already played on the international festival circuit to wide critical acclaim, and won the Best Animated Feature Award at the DIY Film Festival in Los Angeles last year.

Billed as a small adult comedy with a big kid�s heart, Tengers is the pet project of Gauteng-based writer/director/animator and editor, Michael J Rix.  Michael wrote and storyboarded Tengers in 1999, and since then has put every spare moment into bringing the story to life through his own unique style of clay-mation.

The inspiration for the production was Mick Jackson�s LA Story, written by Steve Martin.  Within the confines of a very funny comedy, Martin is able to convey the day-to-day occurrences, rituals, hopes and fears associated with living in the sprawling Metropolis of Los Angeles, California.

Commenting on his inspiration, Rix says one specific scene leaps to mind when he remembers the film:

�Two queues formed at an ATM, one a line of citizens withdrawing money, the other a line of robbers stealing the money as soon as it has left the machine. �Hi, my name is Bruce and I�ll be your robber today.� Martin, very nonchalantly, hands Bruce the money and walks on, continuing his conversation with his girlfriend. A powerful scene: in the space of a few seconds he has communicated the level of crime in the city, and the average person�s totally desensitised attitude towards it.�

So Tengers began life as a loving but satirical homage to a frenetic Metropolis not unlike the namesake of L.A.Story, but in animation.  Instead of millions of Rands, crews, locations, studios and performers, the ingredients transformed to plasticine, cardboard, paint and a DV camera� and a whole lot of time.

Rix is a graduate of the Pretoria Technikon Film & Television School. His natural talent for low budget clay-mation was discovered when he threw together a one minute mixed- media animated short in the space of a day, which went on to score a unanimous 95% from the resident lecturers.

Since leaving Film School in 1996, Michael has been involved in numerous productions for South African television. Insert writer, director, animator and editor on shows such as Options, Arts Unlimited, Rise up and Read, Red Bull Flugtag, Sanlam Money Game, Golf Digest TV and Ultra Simple Golf, as well as numerous music videos, commercials and corporate training films. Michael also wrote, directed and edited Man in the Street, a feature film screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.