A first look at Cartoon Saloon's latest film

Director Nora Twomey explains how she fell in love with a story and how she brought it to the screen

Mary Cody


Mary Cody



After years of planning, creating and collaborating Cartoon Saloon has released the trailer for The Breadwinner and audiences across the globe are getting a look at the teaser for the film.
Unsurprisingly the reaction has been 'overwhelmingly positive', according to the film's director, Nora Twomey.
The Breadwinner is an animated feature film that tells the story of Parvana, a 12-year-old girl who gives up everything to provide for her family and reunite with her father.
Based on Deborah Eilis's novel, the film spans the autumn of 2001 in Kabul, Afghanistan just as the Taliban regime began to fall. The book has been published in more than 40 editions and translated into many languages.
Nora explains how two of her colleagues at Cartoon Saloon CEO, Paul Young and Managing Director, Gerry Shirren came back from an animation market in the US in 2013.
“They told us that Aircraft Pictures had the rights to the book and they asked if we would co-produce.
“I got a copy of the book and immediately fell in love with it. Parvana is an ordinary girl but has strength and spirit and I knew I could help bring that to the screen,” she said.
Angelina Jolie, who works hard for the education and empowerment of women in the Middle East, joined the film as Executive Producer at script stage. Nora Twomey went to Los Angeles and met with Angelina and the two also held a number of meetings in London.
“She has helped guide the film from there to its final stages of production. With her experience as a director, actor and producer, Angelina brought a great amount of wisdom to the storytelling process. Her own sensibilities were very much in-line with my own and the rest of the film-making team. With an unusual film like this, collaboration is key to finding the right path forward. She was very respectful of the director, she has seen film making from many angles,” she said.
Storyboarding began in 2014 and the film will be finished this July.
“We really wanted to make this film distinctive in its artwork and style of animation but the process of finding the right look took almost a year,”
“Art directors Ciaran Duffy and Reza Amirraihi found inspiration in the landscapes, artwork and artefacts of the region. We worked very closely with Afghan consultants in order to be as authentic as we could to a time and place where cameras and visual documenting was outlawed.”
The voice cast, many of them Afghan, were recorded over ten days in Toronto.
“Animating the voice performances takes a year, with each animator taking a week to animate four seconds of animation. Working on such a painstaking pace means that every scene in the film has had a huge amount of dedication.”
A team of over 300 animators, digital painters, voice actors, storyboard artists, compositors and production staff have worked on the film across Ireland, Luxembourg and Canada.
“It has been a long process and a lot of people have worked on it and everyone's work can be seen on the screen. I am so proud of their work,” she said.
The trailer was shown to the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during their visit to Kilkenny earlier this month when they visited the twice Oscar-nominated studio.
“They had a lot of interest in the film. The Duchess had read the book and the Prince had set up a fund around ten years ago to preserve the historical buildings in Kabul. It was great they had such a positive reaction to the trailer.”
The film is a co-production between Cartoon Saloon, Aircraft Pictures and Melusine with compositing by Guru Studios in Toronto. It will be released in the US in the Autumn and in the UK and Ireland early next year. The trailer was released last week by Cartoon Saloon and has been viewed over 25,000 times