“The character of Penny was inspired by a girl I au-paired for when I was at university,” said Dillon, who wrote the screenplay in 2011 already. “I remember when she started taking swimming lessons, I admired her persistence in learning to dive properly, oblivious that she kept belly flopping.”

Penny’s perseverance pays off in the end and in some ways she echoes the determination of the continent’s small but creative animation industry. Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios has produced award-winning African children’s films and cartoons with few resources and sheer willpower partly because they wanted African children to see themselves on screen. It’s also why Belly Flop is free on YouTube.

Belly Flop was made as a creative exercise and for fun with a lot of people going above and beyond to volunteer their time to contribute their expertise in between paid projects,” Anthony Silverston, Triggerfish’s head of development told Quartz. “It was not a commercial project, so we wanted to release it for free so that anyone could watch it, keeping in the spirit of the project.”

This “spirit” reflects much of what drives the local animation industry and it’s what makes watching the short film worth it, notwithstanding its wonderful main character of course.

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