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Watch Jonah, A Visually Rich And Magical Short Film About A Giant Fish

Kibwe Tavares, from Factory Fifteen directs this stunning film about tourism and change in Zanzibar.

Filmmaking collective Factory Fifteen has recently collaborated on Jonah, a stunning short film about a giant fish and the effects it has on the growth of a small African town. The film, directed by Kibwe Tavares who previously directed Robots of Brixton, is set in Stone Town, Zanzibar and focuses on two friends--Mbwana and Juma--whose lives are changed by the impact of their discovery of the giant fish.


Longing for some kind of change and a boost to his tourist dollar intake, Mbwana's wishes become reality when the pair accidentally snap a huge fish, heralding big changes in their town. The film mixes live action with animation, with Factory Fifteen creating and designing the VFX for the town's transformation. Jellyfish Pictures created the VFX for the spectacular underwater scenes.

Featuring a magical realist style, the film explores how a town's infrastructure can be influenced by a single famous instance or idea. Taking inspiration from places like Liverpool and how one band's legacy--The Beatles--has left a marked cultural impact, the film speculates on how tourism can be a catalyst for change and how this one fish comes to define a town.

Aesthetically, Factory Fifteen were influenced on the design of the town from the quick growth of places like Vegas, Dubai, and Shanghai, and looked to built up environments like the Khaosan Road in Bangkok, Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo to show how a town might rapidly change.

The town's transformation happens magically before our eyes, with buildings growing and signage cropping up everywhere as the place becomes littered with the iconography of the giant fish--and an idyllic beach town becomes a polluted and seedy tourist trap. The architectural design is integrated with the storytelling as the film reflects on how cities and towns can become soured by the industries that come to define them.


You can check out some exclusive stills from the project below. And also check out the making of video, which breaks down how the remarkable VFX were created.

The making of

To find out more about Factory Fifteen, watch our documentary on them below…