Oscar glory hope for Louth animators who worked on new animated film

Áine Mc Guinness from Dromiskin and Ciaran Duffy from Meadow Grove, Dundalk worked on The Breadwinner

Niamh Clarke


Niamh Clarke


Oscar glory hope for Louth animators who worked on new animated film

A still from The Breadwinner

Áine Mc Guinness from Dromiskin and Ciaran Duffy from Meadow Grove, Dundalk, both work for Cartoon Saloon, an Irish animation film and television studio in Kilkenny, and have recently been crucial in the making of Oscar-nominated animated film, The Breadwinner.

The Breadwinner is a recently released animated film about a young girl, Parvana, living in Kabul, Afghanistan, under the control of the Taliban, who goes to many lengths to provide for her family.

Aine McGuinness 

Dundalk Democrat caught up with Áine Mc Guinness and Ciaran Duffy to explore what their roles were on the film and how the experience was.

Áine, who studied Animation in Dun Laoghaire Institue of Art, Design, and Technology, graduating in 2007, has worked in animation since then. She has illustrated children's books and moved to Kilkenny in 2015 to work for Cartoon Saloon.

She explains her involvement in the film, The Breadwinner and what the experience was like for her:

“Working on The Breadwinner was an amazing experience. I’m incredibly proud of the work I did and how much I learned in that time. Having worked mainly on children's tv shows, working on a feature film was a real challenge.

"The standard expected is much higher so I was really pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Working on a film with such a tough subject matter was quite challenging at times.

"We forget how privileged we are and films like The Breadwinner are a reminder of the hardships that other people are facing in different parts of the World. The director, Nora Twomey, was hugely inspiring. She dealt with the topic with such sensitivity and respect, delivering an important message to the young viewers who will watch the film." 

“I think the best thing about working in animation is getting to do what I love for a living. I feel very lucky to be creative every day. Also, by creating content for children we can convey messages and discuss tricky subjects that could have a big impression on them. It’s a big responsibility, but can be hugely rewarding when done right.”

Ciaran Duffy, who also graduated from IADT Dún Laoghaire in 2007, was co-Art Director on The Breadwinner. This was his first time being art director and he says loved the challenge and responsibility of the job. Ciaran explains his role on the film and how long of a process it was:

“I was involved mainly with the look of the background - concentrating on the overall look - painting the world, they inhabit. As co-Art Director, I was at the front end, making the decisions. I think the greatest thing about my role was probably the opportunity to put into action things that I had been thinking of.

Being given so much responsibility was a big privilege. But, of course, there was a lot of pressure because this had never been done before – a bunch of people in Ireland making a film about Kabul. We had a huge number of consultants.

“For example, we would ask Afghani people about body language and how people used their hands. We wanted the film to be authentic since it was based on a real place. We didn’t want it to be cliché. The film took three years in total to make. In 2015, we had a small pre-production team. In 2016, we had a huge production team.

“I was in charge of a team of painters and it was my job to help keep them consistent. It was a very busy few years. In 2017, we were working on the book of the making of the film. The film is set in Kabul Afghanistan in 2000/2001; it’s not a true story, but it is true how girls and women were treated.

“A lot of girls in a family of all females cut their hair – so it’s true in that sense – in places that the Taliban had total control especially,” he explains.

The Breadwinner is out in cinemas now and has been nominated for a number of prestigious awards including Golden Globes and the Oscars.