Kirikou and the Sorceress

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Kirikou and the Sorceress
Original French film poster
Directed byMichel Ocelot
Written byMichel Ocelot
Produced byDidier Brunner
StarringDoudou Gueye Thiaw
Maimouna N'Diaye
Awa Sène Sarr[1]
Edited byDominique Lefevre[1]
Music byYoussou N'Dour
France 3 Cinéma
Les Armateurs
Monipoly Productions
Odec Kid Cartoons
Rija Studio
Studio O
Trans Europe Film
Distributed byGébéka Films
Release date
  • 9 December 1998 (1998-12-09)
Running time
71 minutes[2]
Budget3,800,000 [3]

Kirikou and the Sorceress (French: Kirikou et la Sorcière, [kiʁiku e la sɔʁsjɛʁ]) is a 1998 French-language animated adventure fantasy 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 9 December 1998.[5] It is a co-production between companies in France (Exposure, France 3 Cinema, Les Armateurs, Monipoly, Odec Kid Cartoons), Belgium (Radio-Télévision 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 follow-up, Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes, was released in late 2012.[7]


In a little West African village, an unusual boy named Kirikou is born, who can speak before birth and walk immediately after birth. After Kirikou's mother tells him that an evil sorceress, Karaba, has dried up their spring and eaten all the men of the village except for one, he decides to accompany the last warrior, his uncle, to visit her and try to stop her.

Kirikou manages to trick the sorceress and save his uncle by waiting inside his uncle's hat and pretending that it is magic. Additionally, he saves the village's children from being kidnapped both by the sorceress's boat and tree, and kills the monster who was drinking all the village's water, gaining trust and stature in the eyes of the previously skeptical villagers. With the help of his mother and various animals, Kirikou then evades Karaba's watchmen and travels into a forbidden mountain to ask his wise old grandfather about the sorceress.

His grandfather tells him that she is evil because she suffers from a poisoned thorn in her back, which causes her great pain and also gives her great power. After learning this, Kirikou manages to take the sorceress's stolen gold, thus luring her outside to where he can trick her and extract the poisoned thorn. As a result, the sorceress is cured of her suffering, and she kisses Kirikou, who then becomes an adult.

When Kirikou and Karaba arrive back at the village, no one believes that the sorceress is cured until a procession of drummers arrive with Kirikou's grandfather. The drummers turn out to be the sorceress's watchmen and henchmen restored to their original human forms, the missing men of the village, whom she hadn't eaten after all.


French voice cast[edit]

  • Doudou Gueye Thiaw: Child Kirikou
  • Awa Sene Sarr: Karaba
  • Maimouna N'Diaye: Kirikou's mother
  • Robert Liensol: Kirikou's grandfather
  • William Nadylam: Adult Kirikou
  • Sébastien Hébrant: Adult Kirikou
  • Rémi Bichet: Adult Kirikou
  • Thilombo Lubambu: Kirikou's uncle
  • Marie Augustine Diatta: the force woman
  • Moustafa Diop: the fetish on the roof
  • Isseu Niang: the small woman
  • Selly Raby Kane: Zoé, the big girl
  • Erick Patrick Correa: Boris, the big boy
  • Adjoua Barry: Boulette, a girl
  • Charles Edouard Gomis Correa: a boy
  • Marie-Louise Shedeye Diiddi: the little girl
  • Abdoulayé Diop Yama: the old person
  • Josephine Theodora M'Boup: a woman
  • Tabata N'Diaye: the old woman
  • Samba Wane: fetish talked
  • Aminatha N'Diaye: a mother
  • François Chicaïa: man of the village
  • N'Deyé Aïta N'Diaye: woman of the village
  • Abdou El Aziz Gueye: man of the village
  • Boury Kandé: woman of the village
  • Assy Dieng Bâ: Karaba's scream
  • Michel Elias: animal sounds

English voice cast[edit]

  • Kombisile Sangweni: The Mother
  • Mabutho Kid Sithole: The Old Man

Swahili voice cast[edit]

  • Samson Komeka: Kirikou

Japanese voice cast[edit]

Brazilian voice cast[edit]

  • Thiago Keplmair: Kirikou
  • Sérgio Moreno: Adult Kirikou
  • Sandra Mara Azevedo: Karaba
  • Wendel Bezerra: the fetish on the roof
  • Alessandra Araújo: Mother
  • Marcelo Pissardini: Uncle
  • Walter Cruz: Grandfather
  • Eleu Salvador: The Old Man
  • Tatiane Keplmair as Zoé, the big girl
  • Fábio Lucindo: Boris, the big boy
  • Rosana Beltrame: the force woman
  • Thelma Lúcia: the old woman


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]


The film contains many instances of nudity that reflect the non-sexualized view of the human body in the West African culture depicted. This was controversial enough in the U.S. and the U.K. to prevent its release.[10][11][12] Eventually, the British Film Institute gave the film a few screenings in the U.K., and in the U.S. specialist distributor Artmattan released it to a small but appreciative African-American audience.[10][12]


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

Video game[edit]

Kirikou, developed by Étranges Libellules for the Playstation, Planet Interactive for the Game Boy Color and Krysalide for the Microsoft Windows.


Music for the film was created by Senegalese artist Youssou N'dour. The ending theme for the film is called "Kirikou by Boubacar Mendy", released on Virgin EMI.


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[13]
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 18th Ale Kino! International Young Audience Film Festival Silver Poznan Goats Best Animation Film Won
2000 18th Ale Kino! International Young Audience Film Festival Poznan Goats Best Original Script in Foreign Movie Won
2000 18th Ale Kino! International Young Audience Film Festival Marcinek - Children's Jury Special Mention Animation for Older Children 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 d Ocelot, Michel (5 December 2003). "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. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b Ocelot, Michel (5 December 2003). Tout sur Kirikou (in French). Paris: Seuil. pp. 40, 13. ISBN 2-02-062827-9.
  4. ^ Lugt, Peter van der (25 August 2008). "This is animation". Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Kirikou Et La Sorciere (Kirikou And The Sorceress)"., 13 October 2012
  6. ^ Hetrick, Adam (21 June 2007). "Animated film Kirikou and the Sorceress to become stage musical". Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2008.
  7. ^ "En cours". Les Armateurs. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. 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. ^ a b James, Alison (25 December 2005). "Some nix 'Kirikou' pix due to nudity". Variety. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Animated 'Kirikou and the Sorceress' Transitions to Stage Musical". Animation World Network. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b "The Film Canon: Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)". The Young Folks. 8 February 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  13. ^ 5. Kecskeméti Animációs Filmfesztivál 2. Nemzetközi Animációs Játékfilm Fesztivál. Kecskeméti Animáció Film Fesztivál. 1999.

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