A young boy, Maki, escapes from a slave trader and befriends an orphaned giraffe that’s also on the run from a Bedouin prince, who wants to gift the animal to the King of France. Determined to resist their captors, the pair embark on an adventure-filled journey from Sudan to Paris, crossing paths with eccentric characters including an aviator, twin cows and a pirate queen.
Directed by Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie (who worked on Belleville Rendez-Vous), this French production was a runaway success in its home country, raking in over 1.5 admissions at the box office. (NB. the film is presented here in an English dub.) With its sumptuous hand-drawn animation conveying the vistas from Arabian deserts to snow-capped mountains, it’s one of the more beautiful children’s animations of recent times. It also incorporates serious messages about slavery and inequality, which is one of the reasons it was selected by Children’s Cinema Club, a nationwide initiative led by Soda Pictures aimed at improving access to independent children’s film, created with support from the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery.