Captain Morten and the Spider Queen
Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

#IrishAbroad: Two Irish animations win at the 23rd International Film Festival Schlingel

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen, the first stop-motion animated film made in Ireland, has won Best Animated Feature award at the Schlingel festival for Children and young people in Chemnitz in Germany. The prize was awarded by the German Institute for Animated Film, DIAF. Another Irish feature animation, Cartoon Saloon’s The Breadwinner, won the Award Of The Ecumenical Jury.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen tells the story of a dreamy, 10-year-old boy who whiles away his days fantasizing about captaining his own ship and trying to avoid the ire of his devious and reluctant guardian: Mean Spinster Anna (Pauline McLynn). Morten’s fantasizing goes some small way to distracting him from missing his father Captain Viks (Brendan Gleeson), who is away at sea. Morten aspires to be a captain some day, just like his dad. After a chance meeting with the mysterious and inept magician Senór Cucaracha (Tommy Tiernan), Morten finds himself shrunken down and aboard the deck of his very own toy sailing ship. But Morten has company in the form of an eerily familiar insect crew led by an evil Spider-Queen. With the help of a beautiful butterfly-friend Eliza, Morten must take back control of his ship which is caught up in a threatening storm.

Others in the all-star Irish cast include Ciarán Hinds, Jason Byrne, Mario Rosenstock, Michael McElhatton and Neil Delamere. The film introduces young Irish talents Cian O’Dowd and Susie Power as Morten and his friend Elisabeth.

With a budget of €10 million the film has been six years in the making. It is the first film to be animated in stop-motion in Ireland and the most expensive film to be made by an Estonian film producer.

It’s great to pick up an award at a festival for children and young people.  This is first and foremost a family film and is not just for animation fans. Kaspar Jancis, Director

The film is the brainchild of Kaspar Jancis, winner of the Cartoon D’Or for his short film Krokodil. Jancis is a writer, musician and animator and this is his first feature film. To put himself in the right frame of mind he roughed out the storyboard on a boat from Rotterdam to the Antarctic. He disembarked at Tristan da Cunha by which time he had finished the storyboard. Captain Morten and the Spider Queen was co-produced with Nukufilm in Estonia, Grid in Belgium and Calon in Wales.

Schlingel is an international film festival for children and young audiences. The festival began in 1996, and has taken place annually in Chemnitz ever sincein the week before the Saxon Fall Break. The festival gives an overview of the newest international productions in the area of children and youth films. The festival is organized by the Saxon Children and Youth Films Association in Chemnitz. The 23rd International Film Festival Schlingel screened a total of 235 productions from 51 countries, 124 films in competition.

A boy whose greatest wish is to be taken on a great sea voyage by his father and who dreams of being captain of his own ship. The best donuts in the world, a treasure holding a ship together, and out-of-control magic cannon to be used only by people who know what they are doing. These are just some of the ingredients for this boundlessly imaginative adventure with excellent animation and lovingly crafted characters. An enchanting and adorable story, told in an original and detailed way.
German Institute for Animated Film, DIAF

The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is directed by Nora Twomey (co-director, Academy Award®-nominated The Secret of Kells) with screen story by Ellis and screenplay by Anita Doron. The Breadwinner is the story of Parvana, a young girl living under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, who must disguise herself as a boy to become the breadwinner of the family when her father is unfairly imprisoned. A story of self-empowerment and imagination in the face of oppression, The Breadwinner also celebrates the culture, history and beauty of Afghanistan with a cast that includes many performers of Afghan descent.

The Breadwinner features the voice talents of Saara Chaudry (Max & Shred) in the role of Parvana, Soma Bhatia (Degrassi: Next Class) as Shauzia, Laara Sadiq (Remedy) as Parvana’s mother Fattema, Ali Badshah (The Cat In The Hat) as Parvana’s father Nurullah, Shaista Latif (This is the Life) as Parvana’s sister Soraya, and Kawa Ada (Jihad Gigilo) as Razaq.

The film is a collaborative effort of Canada’s Aircraft Pictures, Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon and Luxembourg’s Melusine Productions in association with Jolie Pas Productions. The Breadwinner was produced with the financial participation of Telefilm Canada and the Talent Fund, the Irish Film Board, Film Fund Luxembourg, Mimi Gitlin Productions, The Shaw Rocket Fund, Artemis Rising Foundation, The Broadcast Authority of Ireland, The Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Harold Greenberg Fund, RTE, Movie Central, The Movie Network a division of Bell Media Inc., the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit.

The Ecumenical Jury honors a film that is convincing, both in content and in aesthetics. The film, set in 2001, depicts the struggle for survival of a family from the perspective of eleven-year-old Parvana in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Particularly noteworthy in this animated film is the harmonious combination of real events with a timeless fairytale story. In this way, it appeals to young and adult audiences alike.