Rising Animation Star Lola Aikins Wins The Faku’gesi Award For Best Animation


Johannesburg, South Africa: Lola Aikins, was announced the winner at the 2nd Annual Faku’gesi Awards for best animation for her debut short film NALEDI. The Faku’gesi Awards were held on 29 September 2023 in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.


Lola Aikins is a writer and director of animated films, making waves in the animation industry, locally and internationally. She is part of the 2023 Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans in the film and media category. Lola is part of a new generation of animators defining what animation from South Africa looks like. She is one of the few young black women taking up space in the local animation space with her animated films, pushing for authentic African aesthetics in her work, representing women and more diverse stories in animation.

NALEDI, is about a star athlete who has to come to terms with her debilitating grief to regain her confidence and finish her race. It is a film about the resilience needed to get through grief from the perspective of a professional athlete. Inspired by the past experiences of Lola injuring herself as a promising athlete in school and having her sports career end prematurely, as well as the first major loss in her life when her grandfather passed away.


The film stood out, due to its authentic representation of African aesthetics as well as representing African women in sports in film and animation as African women dominate athletics yet their stories are rarely told. The film is also exceptional due to its high quality in traditional hand-drawn 2D animation when 2D animation is rare coming from Africa. What is even more impressive is that the film won the award for its 1 minute proof of concept teaser trailer. Lola ultimately wishes to create a 10 minute film with NALEDI. She and her team are actively working towards raising funding to complete the entire 10 minute film and possibly expand on the concept after the short film is completed.


The teaser was funded by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the National Arts Council (NAC). The production company for the teaser was The Hidden Hand Studios based in Johannesburg. The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) have also come on board and funded script development for the 10 minute film.


The Faku’gesi Awards is a pan-African event that celebrates the best creators in digital creation in various categories from across the continent. The Faku’gesi awards are the first of their kind in Africa.


“To be awarded this accolade is a great honour and validates not just all my hard work but the hard work of everyone involved in making this teaser. It shows that African animation is on the rise and that all eyes are on us. I can’t wait to be back at the Faku’gesi awards in a few years when we have completed the entire 10-minute film,” says Lola.


To watch the award-winning teaser click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAPGZftjRBYu4xi-B7AlVKg