It's fair to say that Cartoon Saloon have now firmly established themselves as one of the finest animation studios anywhere in the world. Which means that anything which comes out of the studio is likely to draw a lot of attention- not least from this very site. Next up from the company is The Breadwinner which marks the much anticipated solo feature directorial debut of Secret of Kells co-helmer Nora Twomey.
The film marks something of a departure for the studio, taking place a long way away from Ireland. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Deborah Ellis, the story follows young girl named Parvana living in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. After her father is imprisoned, she is forced to disguise herself as a boy in order to become the chief 'breadwinner' to support her family. The project has already attracted the attention of Hollywood A-lister Angelina Jolie who has signed on as a producer.
In an interview with The National Twomey has revealed more details about the film. It seems that Jolie has been quite hands on with the project and is bringing a lot of her expertise- not as an actress but through her work as a UN Envoy- to the table. For example Jolie was keen for the film to cast as many of the actors from the correct background as possible. The voice track is being recorded in Canada, and the production has cast may from Afghan, Pakistani and Indian communities. It seems that authenticity is very much a watchword here, as Twomey has been working with consultants to make sure that the culture is represented with as much respect and as close to reality as possible.
The article confirms that Jolie's role is staying behind the scenes, and you shouldn't expect to hear her in the film itself. Apparently this is due to an exclusivity contract the Kung Fu Panda franchise, but it's probably for the best anyway. Celebrity stunt-casting is hardly Cartoon Saloon's style.
There's even plans to release a foreign-language version in the most widely spoken Afghan languages. This isn't the first time Cartoon Saloon has produced their films in multiple languages- a Gaelic edition of Song Of The Sea was released in Ireland alongside the English version.
It seems that any concerns about the studio stepping outside their comfort zone can be quickly laid to rest. It may be a world away from anything they've done before but they seem to be relishing the challenge and allowing it to push them to new heights. The more we learn, the more excited we're getting about this... if that's even possible!
The Breadwinner is expected to be completed in 2017.