A presentation of the new feature-length Irish animated film.
At the 2008 international pitching forum in Annecy, France, visited by filmmakers, producers and distributors from around the world, the project of the progressive Irish studio Cartoon Saloon, Brendan and the Secret of Kells, roused great attention and special interest. From the first sample previews on, it was clear that it is a film of unique art qualities, an integral and functional interconnection of various animation techniques, and a perfect presentation of the very best of Irish animation and its brief history.
It is based on a traditional and mythological theme, picking up the thread of adaptations of classic literature, so typical for Irish animation. The story takes place in the 9th century, a period when Ireland was a stronghold of religious education and produced highly developed book illuminations in the monks' workshops.
Twelve-year-old Brendan is brought up by the firm and uncompromising hand of his uncle, abbot Cellach, who plans for Brendan to take over his post as abbot one day. The boy, however, meets monk Aidan, a master of book illumination who is working at a masterwork; the richly adorned Book of Kells. Brendan feels that it is his life mission and aim to finish the book and to devote his life to art. On his way towards fulfillment he must cross a mythical forest full of living mythology, where he confronts his innermost fears. The film connects the historical background of monastic life, endangered by the invasions of the fierce Vikings, to the themes of folklore and mythology, and is an impressive play of fantasy with a touch of horror. The process of Brendan's artistic coming of age is prevented not only by the inner demons he must subdue but also by a real deadly danger. Thus, on a higher level, the film opens up the theme of artistic freedom and the limiting influences exerted upon the individual by his surroundings.
The presentation of the film and bonuses yet unscreened in public will deal with the employed methods and point out the direction one of the most striking lines of contemporary Irish animation takes. The film will be presented by Tomm Moore, one of the founding members of the Cartoon Saloon, and the semiabstract artist Ross Stewart, the lead art designer of the film, whose work is distinguished for its deep sense of the atmosphere of a place or a locality. Tomm and Ross will deal with various aspects of the genesis of a work and its form, especially with respect to design, style, art direction and story, as its interconnection with Irish life and way of thinking is manifest. They have both spent nine years with the idea of making Brendan and the Secret of Kells and thus offer the audience an opportunity to learn not only about this particular work, but also about the pitfalls of producing a feature length animated film in an independent studio.