Kilkenny’s animation studio, The Cartoon Saloon, has been nominated for an Oscar and an Annie this year for its animation movie The Secret of Kells .
The Secret of Kells is one of five nominees in the Animated Feature Film category. It joins box office hits, Up, The Princess And The Frog, Coraline, and Fantastic Mr Fox. The winners will be announced on March 7, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Currently the team from the Cartoon Saloon are en route to LA where they are attending the Annie Awards this Saturday night, which is the highest honour given in animation.
A spokesperson at the Cartoon Saloon said that the team was ecstatic to be nominated for an Annie and when the Oscars were announced - they were amazed.
“We were just stunned ,” said Nora Twomey, “ It was great enough to get the Annie nomination but to hear this on the week that we are going to LA for the Annie Awards is simply incredible.”
The locally produced feature-length film is directed by Tomm Moore and was released last year and produced by Paul Young.
Speaking following the announcement, Mayor Malcolm Noonan offered to host a civic reception at city hall for the company.
“It’s heartening that a small animation studio based here in Kilkenny can consistently produce output of such quality that it is recognised at this level. The film is stunning — every frame is a work of art and unique in the manner in which it was produced when so much animation has gone digital,’ he said.
The Secret of Kells, which has also been the recipient of several awards, (Best Irish Film by the Dublin Film Critics Circle at the Dublin Film Festival) features the voices of Brendan Gleeson and Mick Lally.
The story is set in the 9th century and tells of 12-year-old Brendan (Evan McGuire). Brendan is educated by his uncle, Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson), who holds a firm grip on his nephew and expects him to follow in his footsteps. One day, Brendan meets Brother Aidan (Mick Lally), a master illustrator who shows him the beauty of art and stimulates his creativity and fantasy. Finally, Brendan decides to break free in search of his dream: completing the valuable Book of Kells. On his journey through the forest, he has to face his biggest fears.
The Secret of Kells was produced by Cartoon Saloon, Les Armateurs (France), and Vivi film (Belgium).
All of the staff of the Cartoon Saloon are of course anxious to attend the Oscars but so far they are unsure of how many tickets they will be allowed.
“We are waiting for a package to arrive next week with all that information and so we will know more then. I gather most people will go - with or without tickets, just to be a part of the buzz,” said Nora.
The Mayor has confirmed that he will write to Cartoon Saloon producer Paul Young to wish them well at the awards and to offer to host a reception in city hall following the Oscars in March. He also expressed his hope that the film would be put back on general release in Irish cinemas and that this latest success would put the studio on a firm development footing in Kilkenny.
“I hope that the profile of the Oscar nomination will open doors for Cartoon Saloon and find wider audiences for this beautiful film,” concluded Mayor Noonan.