Jonah: A Story of Legend, Friendship and Survival by Kibwe Tavares




Jonah is a short by Kibwe Tavares. It is set in Zanzibar and looks at the effects tourism can have on a country from an economic and environmental perspective. By utilising a narrative of  friendship between Mbwana and his best friend Juma, these themes are explored. Mbwana and Juma are men with big dreams. Dreams that become a reality when they photograph “the world’s biggest jumping fish” leaping out of the sea.

Their tiny town soon blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn’t what he dreamed – when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive.

The town becomes a money making,” wildly opportunistic” beach town, which has abandoned its original fishing roots.


The trailer teases some of the detailed and rich CGI imagery. You can see the intricacies afforded by Factory Fifteen‘s superb 3D animation efforts below. Tavares describes  the project as a collage of

Live action and animation….the CGI is photo real but how we use it becomes increasing magical as we progress through the film. As an old man, Jonah is ashamed of what his old fishing town has become and decides to hunt down the legendary fish and kill it, killing what it represents.

The lush underwater world of the fish is contrasted with the built-up town above, which is full of flashing lights and jumbled architecture stacked up together. This aesthetic, Tavares says, came from the team looking at the bustling commercial landscapes of places like Khaosan Road in Bangkok, Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Along with taking inspiration from film and TV, like the meticulous scenery of anime Tekkonkinkreet and the realistic, award-winning CGI in Boardwalk Empire.




The short film premiered at Sundance 2013 and will be released later in the year.

Principal Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Malachi Kirby, Louis Mahoney

Director: Kibwe Tavares

Screenwriter: Jack Thorne

Producer: Ivana MacKinnon

Visual Effects Design: Paul Nicholls, Jonathan Gales, Phil Dobree

2 thoughts on “Jonah: A Story of Legend, Friendship and Survival by Kibwe Tavares

  1. Reblogged this on áirisi Magazine and commented:
    This story of ‘Jonah’ is very significant especially in these times; as the world’s eyes turn to Africa as one of the fast growing economies today. We must stop and question the effects of such developments – I personally am very weary of such promises of a brighter future through ‘economic development’. In most cases, something has to give and I wonder – our leaders sold their souls decades ago for a false promise of development, power and financial gain; are we going to do the same?

    We have to chance to stop and look around us; there are so many potential ‘case studies’ of what the so-called ‘economic development’ has done to different societies. Countries like the UK are only starting to reap the rotten fruits of their tireless labour for wealth and power an it’s almost like the people have woken up and realised that the freedom that they have preached through democracy doesn’t exist….they live in one of the most controlled societies in the world today and they don’t even know it.

    I tend to rant and go off point a bit but what I am trying to say is we have the opportunity to grow organically and create sustainable economies that are really for the people by the people. It’s not about how far or fast, but about how well.

  2. Pingback: Watch Jonah for FREE | Ciné Kenya

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