For years, we’ve watched animated cartoons in cinemas and have been astonished by the superb work. What really broke our hearts was that our animation industry wasn’t nearly as good as we have seen abroad. That is until we stumbled upon this ad for a new cartoon called Agent B12, and immediately fell in love with it. That left us with an important question, what does this mean to our animation industry? Well, buckle up! Because we’re taking you on a ride through the history of Egyptian animation.
For starters, Dumiah is an Egyptian animation company that released its first animation series, Foolyz, on YouTube last year. Everyone loved it, leaving the crowds with high hopes for the future of animation in Egypt.
We all grew up watching Spacetoon, which mostly had Japanese anime, or MBC 3, which also aired cartoons from other countries. However, none of these channels included any 100% Egyptian animation.
A glimmer of hope rose in the 2000s, with animation series like Super Henedy, Mat Nam, and Qobtan Azzouz. Yet again, these shows, like anything else, came to an end after a short while and we were back to thinking this was it for the animation industry.
The sad part is that we weren’t always like this. We did some digging into our history of animation and found some amazing stuff. The first animation company in Egypt was built by a family called Frenkel, who fled from Russia to Egypt after World War I. They decided to start this company to feed their passion for cinema, and they did it; it was called Frenkel Animated Pictures.
After Walt Disney introduced the world to Mickey Mouse, Frenkels started casting talent from all fields to change animation as we know it, and produced the first movie, “Mesh Mesh Afandi”, in 1939. After World War II, the film was turned into a series of sketches and became a major hit. Everyone praised the awesome techniques back then, but sadly, due to political circumstances, the Frenkel brothers had to move to another country, and so Egypt was back to the “no animation dilemma”.
Years later, Ihab Shaker came to the rescue, becoming the first Egyptian animator to get international attention with his first short animation film, “The Bottle”, in 1968. Ihab also helped in the foundation of the International Animated Film Association, and after making more animation shorts, he quickly became known as the Pioneer of Egyptian Animation.
Many amazing Egyptian animators followed Ihab’s footsteps in 2010 and 2011; such as Mohanad Hassan and Mohammed Ghazala, winning awards and reviving the industry even more.
A proud moment in 2017 was when the animated Egyptian film, “The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller”, starring Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga and actress/model Tara Emad won the “Best Animation Film Emerging Media” award. Director Ahmed Roshdy was the one behind it.
We’re so pumped about this new cartoon, and hopefully, it will bring back our legacy of animation.
By Yara Tarek