Kirikou and the Sorceress

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"Kirikou" redirects here. For the video game based on the film, see Kirikou (video game).
Kirikou and the Sorceress
Kirikou et la sorcière.jpg
Original French film poster
Directed by Michel Ocelot
Produced by Didier Brunner
Written by Michel Ocelot
Music by Youssou N'Dour
Edited by Dominique Lefevre[1]
Distributed by Gébéka Films
Release dates
  • 9 December 1998 (1998-12-09)
Running time
71 minutes[2]
Country France
Language French
Budget 3,800,000 [3]

Kirikou and the Sorceress (French: Kirikou et la Sorcière) is a 1998 traditional animation feature film written and directed by Michel Ocelot. Drawn from elements of West African folk tales,[4] it depicts how a newborn boy, Kirikou, saves his village from the evil witch Karaba. The film was originally released on December 9, 1998.[5] It is a co-production between companies in France (Exposure, France 3 Cinema, Les Armateurs, Monipoly, Odec Kid Cartoons), Belgium (Radio-Television Belge) and Luxembourg (Studio O, Trans Europe Film) and animated at Rija Films' studio in Latvia and Studio Exist in Hungary.[1][5]

It was so successful that it was followed by Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages, released in 2005, and adapted into a stage musical, Kirikou et Karaba, first performed in 2007.[6] Another followup, Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes, was released in late 2012.[7]


In a little village somewhere in West Africa, a boy named Kirikou is born in a spectacular way. But he's not a normal boy, since he can speak and walk immediately after being born. He is also very determined. His mother tells him that an evil sorceress has dried up their spring and devoured all the males of the village except for one. Hence the tiny Kirikou decides to accompany the last warrior, his uncle, to visit the sorceress. Kirikou tricks the sorceress and saves his uncle, by waiting inside his uncle's hat, and pretending that it was magic. He saved the children from being kidnapped by the sorceress' boat, which sped off towards Karaba, and saved them later again from the sorceress' tree, which closed it branches, and once again sped off towards Karaba. Next, he bursts the monster who was drinking all the village's water. He then travels to ask his wise old grandfather about the sorceress, and faces many obstacles in the process. The grandfather finds that Kirikou is always asking questions, which is a good thing. The grandfather tells him that she is evil because she suffers: bad men put a poisoned thorn in her back. On the way to Karaba, Kirikou makes friends, who each in turn, give him presents, after he saves them from the skunk. Kirikou manages to trick the sorceress and removes the thorn, he also manages to take the gold, and return it to the rightful owners. The sorceress is cured. She kisses Kirikou and he becomes an adult. Love reigns. When they arrive back at the village, no one believes that the sorceress is cured, and only do they believe Kirikou, when a procession of drummers arrive. It turns out Karaba did not eat them, just turned them into watchmen, and other obedient objects.


The film is a co-production of Les Armateurs, Trans Europe Film, Studio O, France 3 cinéma, RTBF and Exposure in France, Odec Kid Cartoons in Belgium and Monipoly in Luxembourg.[1] It was animated at Rija Films' animation studio in Latvia and Studio Exist in Hungary, with backgrounds painted at Les Armateurs and Paul Thiltges' animation studio, Tiramisu, in Luxembourg, digital ink and paint and compositing by Les Armateurs and Odec Kid Cartoons in Belgium and voices and music recorded in Senegal.[8]

The original French voice acting was performed by a cast of West African actors and schoolchildren and recorded in Dakar. The English dubbing, also directed by Ocelot, was made in South Africa.[3] A dub of the film in the Swahili language was produced in Tanzania in 2009 through the help of the Danish Film Institute (DFI) and John Riber of Media for Development in Dar es Salaam.[9]


French voice cast[edit]

English voice cast[edit]

Swahili voice cast[edit]

Japanese voice cast[edit]



The film contains several instances of female nudity, and male nudity to a lesser extent, as would be the norm in pre-colonial Africa. This was controversial enough in the US to delay the film's release there until 2002.


The film has been licensed by distributors in numerous countries, including:


Year Award Show Award Category Result
1999 Annecy International Animation Film Festival Grand Prix Best Animation Film Won
1999 Castellinaria International Festival of Young Cinema Environment and Health Award Won
1999 Castellinaria International Festival of Young Cinema Silver Castle Won
1999 Chicago International Children's Film Festival Adult's Jury Award Feature Film and Video – Animation Won
1999 Chicago International Children's Film Festival Children's Jury Award Feature Film and Video – Animation Won
1999 Cinekid Festival Cinekid Film Award Won
1999 Kecskemét Animation Film Festival Kecskemét City Prize KAFF Award Won[10]
1999 Oulu International Children's Film Festival C.I.F.E.J. Award Won
1999 Oulu International Children's Film Festival Starboy Award Nominated
2000 Ale Kino! – International Young Audience Film Festival Silver Poznan Goat Best Animation Film Won
2000 Cartagena Film Festival Prize of the Children's Cinema Competition Jury Best Feature Film for Children Won
2000 Montréal International Children's Film Festival Special Jury Prize Feature Film Won
2002 British Animation Awards British Animation Award Best European Feature Film Won (tied with Chicken Run)
2009 Lola Kenya Children's Screen Audience's Choice Award Won


  1. ^ a b c Ocelot, Michel (2003-12-05). "Des noms". Tout sur Kirikou (in French). Paris: Seuil. pp. 172–173. ISBN 2-02-062827-9. 
  2. ^ a b "Kirikou et la sorcière". Les Armateurs. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Ocelot, Michel (2003-12-05). Tout sur Kirikou (in French). Paris: Seuil. pp. 40, 13. ISBN 2-02-062827-9. 
  4. ^ Lugt, Peter van der (2008-08-25). "This is animation". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  5. ^ a b "Kirikou Et La Sorciere (Kirikou And The Sorceress)"., October 13, 2012
  6. ^ Hetrick, Adam (2007-06-21). "Animated film Kirikou and the Sorceress to become stage musical". Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  7. ^ "En cours". Les Armateurs. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Closing credits of the film.
  9. ^ Alexander Macbeth (21 September 2009). "The cast of the English version of the film.Film: Zanzibar's Festival shows the way forward". The Africa Report. 
  10. ^ 5. Kecskeméti Animációs Filmfesztivál 2. Nemzetközi Animációs Játékfilm Fesztivál. Kecskeméti Animáció Film Fesztivál. 1999.

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