Magic Cellar Wins First Prize at Chicago International Children's Film Festival (CICFF)

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Chicago, Illinois: Magic Cellar, the first animated series to be based on African culture, has been awarded First Prize in the Animated Television Production category at the 2006 Chicago International Children's Festival (CICFF). The jury was entirely composed of children. The CICFF receives and presents more product than any other children's festival worldwide and is considered the most prestigious film festival for children.

Magic Cellar, the first animated series to be based on African culture, has been awarded First Prize in the Animated Television Production category at the 2006 Chicago International Children's Festival (CICFF). The jury was entirely composed of children. Hailed by press and public as "Cannes for Kids", the CICFF receives and presents more product than any other children's festival worldwide and is considered the most prestigious film festival for children.

Receiving the award in Chicago, Illinois on Sunday, October 29, 2006 was Firdaus Kharas, Director and Executive Producer of Magic Cellar. Mr. Kharas commented: "I am particularly pleased that we won first prize from a jury entirely composed of children. It is quite remarkable that Chicago children chose a series that showcases African culture. The award is indicative of the thirst for multi-cultural family programming."

The Chicago International Children's Film Festival is the largest annual festival of films for children in the world, programming over 200 films and videos from 40 countries each year. With over 25,000 children, adults and educators in attendance each year, the festival showcases the best in culturally diverse, non-violent, value affirming new cinema for school groups and families. The festival is also honored to host nearly 130 filmmakers, media professionals, and celebrities each year who attend to lead interactive workshops with the children and is the only children's film festival selected to be an Academy Award® Qualifying Festival.

Two episodes of Magic Cellar were shown a total of seven times in various venues in the Chicago area. Firdaus Kharas spoke and answered questions in interactive sessions with the audiences.

Some of the celebrities participating in the past include: Actor/Director LeVar Burton, Actress Jane Seymour; Actor Paul Dooley; Actor Jonathan Lipnicki; Actor Jake Gyllenhaal; Actor/Director Harold Ramis; Actress Sissy Spacek; Monty Python' s Terry Jones; Actor Shia LaBeouf; Actor/Director Timothy Hutton; Actor Lou Diamond Phillips; Actor Khleo Thomas; Actress Irma P. Hall.

Magic Cellar is the first 3D animated series based on African culture. Beautifully produced entirely in Maya software, the series marks the first time Africa's children see themselves reflected in an animated series.

The series celebrates Africa's culture and traditions while promoting reading as exciting and adventurous. The series is based on African folktales, partially collected from interviews conducted with elders in villages across South Africa. Each episode is broken up into three sections: a brief introduction and set-up; the African story; and a wrap-up with the lessens learnt. Each episode is a self-contained, animated short.

Magic Cellar was commissioned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and is a production of Chocolate Moose Media Inc. of Ottawa, Canada and Morula Pictures of Johannesburg, South Africa. Magic Cellar is directed by multi-award winning Canadian producer and director Firdaus Kharas.

Magic Cellar has won 22 international recognitions recently, including 15 international awards. These include the Platinum REMI Award, 2 Telly Awards, the Grand Festival Award at Berkeley, 2 Aegis Awards, 2 Aurora Awards, the US International's Silver Screen and 2 Certificates of Excellence. Magic Cellar has been selected by the prestigious Hiroshima Animation Festival, the Los Angeles Children's Festival, and for a gala screening by the One World Festival in Ottawa, Canada. Magic Cellar has received an "ALL STAR" endorsement by the Coalition for Quality Children's Media.

Further information on Magic Cellar may be obtained from the comprehensive web-site, http://www.magiccellar.tv. Further information on The Chicago International Children's Film Festival may be obtained from http://www.cicff.org.

Images attached

For additional information and interviews please contact:

In Canada: Firdaus J. Kharas. Director and Executive Producer. Tel: (1)(613) 820-6121 Fax: (1)(613) 820-4679 web-site: http://www.kharas.ca

In South Africa: Elanie Janse van Rensburg, Production Co-ordinator, Cell: (27) (0) 825615192 Tel: (27) (0) 11 482 1152

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