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  • Berlinale kids highlight: A boy and his giraffe

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Berlinale kids highlight: A boy and his giraffe

Got kids? Zarafa was THE compelling kids film at this years Berlinale. Tix were long gone for days now, but keep an eye out for the film in the future. The compelling tale of a cross-racial friendship in the early 19th century.

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Got kids? There’s no excuse to miss Zarafa, the compelling tale of a cross-racial friendship (a Sudanese boy and a baby giraffe) in the early 19th century.

For his first animation, French director Rémi Besancon sourced his inspiration from a real historical anecdote: in 1827 the Muhammad Ali Pasha of besieged Alexandria gave Charles X the extraordinary gift of a living giraffe in the hope of getting French support in their war against the Greeks. The result was as unfruitful as unforeseen: French diplomacy didn’t budge, but an instant wave of giraffe-mania swept over the capital. Parisians of every class stormed the Zoo de Vincennes to take a peek at the long-necked mammal, while fashionistas took on the beautiful spotted skin pattern as the latest must-have.

The popular giraffe remained one of the zoo’s main attractions for 18 years before she died and was stuffed for further display (Groupies-to-be: Zarafa can now to be visited at the Natural History Museum in La Rochelle).

The (extrapolated) adventure of 10-year-old Maki and Zarafa takes young viewers along the slave-trade route, from a small village in Sudan to the French capital, through the desert, besieged Alexandria, Marseilles and the Alps – by camel, pirate ship, hot air balloon, and back, with unforgettable encounters along the way, from sexy piratess Bouboulina to Maki’s two travel companions: genial and congenial inventor Malaterre and the handsome, taciturn albeit good-hearted Bedouin Hassan.

Visually beautiful, educationally and emotionally satisfying, nicely inspirational while never preachy – this is an ideal kids flick for all ages – at the screening we attended brats squealed in delight, while parents left content and red-eyed.

Last but not least – this is a 3D, CGI-free product. And, yes, Zarafa 2D reaffirms the pleasure of a good old-fashioned animation without glasses!