Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lily in Mexico

Lily Bernard , one of the lead background designers on The Secret of Kells on Mexican TV just before the Oscars!
Lily is just finishing working on the backgrounds for a job in the Saloon now before returning to Mexico to teach.
She is helping to develop our first preschool show Puffins Rock,so we hope she'll be back in Kilkenny very soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Heres a sketch I made for this auction . I don't know Pres but his friends Charles Solomon and Jamie Bolio asked me to contribute something.

Ross Stewart is donating some stuff from his Kells days too.

Our best wishes to Pres!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Thanks Mr.Mark Cumberton

My Brothers

"My Brothers" directed by Paul Fraser, written by Will Collins, screenwriter of Song of the Sea is playing Tribeca this week. Check it out.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

UK distribution at last!

Our sales agent, Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams has said its finally official -
Optimum releasing will take the UK theatrical and DVD distribution rights for The Secret of Kells.

Optimum are a great label to be with - alongside the Studio Ghibli titles :)

Its great news following our win at the British Animation Awards last week.
Now all our UK fans will hopefully spread the word like our US friends have been doing.

Monday, April 05, 2010

A Perrific Review

Movie Review – The Secret of Kells & Director Tomm Moore Interview: An Illuminating Tale of Creativity

Published on: 3rd April, 2010

(4 1/2 out of 5 starfish)
Opens (San Diego) Friday, April 2nd
Landmark’s Ken Cinema

4061 Adams Avenue – (619) 819-0236

By Perry S. Chen April 2, 2010

Do you know the name of the world’s most visually stunning book? It is illuminated, called The Book of Kells. It was produced in the early 8th century in Scotland. The book of Kells went on a long and arduous journey, somehow made its way to Trinity College in Dublin, where it resides today. The rest in Real history!

The Oscar-nominated animation “The Secret of Kells” is a story about a young orphaned boy Brendan, who lives in the Abby of Kells, under siege of the raiding Vikings. Brendan’s only family is his strict uncle, the powerful Abbott Cellach of Kells. Although the Abbott loves his nephew, he doesn’t have the right way.

Soon, Brother Aidan, a master illuminator from a foreign land, came to the walled city of Kells. He took Brendan under his wings and sent him on a journey to go into the forest to seek a special kind of berry: its juice can be made into emerald green-colored ink for writing “The Book of Kells,” yet to be finished. Brother Aidan brought this sacred book with him, a book overflowing with wisdom and brilliant artistry, to be completed by Brendan!

In the mysterious forest, Brendan is at first terrified of the strange sights and sounds. He encounters a fairy that is unlike any other fairy in fairy tales. Her name is Aisling. She has many qualities that are lacking in ordinary fairies: She is completely white who can change into a wolf in an instant. She has territorial instinct just like a wolf, but unlike a wolf, she can climb trees! She does not have wings and is more agile on her feet.

I noticed that Brendan has a crush on Aisling. It is hard to impress a fairy, but Brendan tried his best and eventually succeeded! Together, the two must join forces to stop the Viking’s invasion and find a magic crystal, so that Brendan can finish the last pages of the Sacred Book.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview director Tomm Moore from Ireland who made The Secret of Kells as his first feature length animation. I asked him what inspired him to become a filmmaker in animation. “When I was a child I loved comics and animation,” said Moore, “The Don Bluth studio which made The Land Before Time and An American Tale had relocated to Dublin, so I dreamed of working there. I was a member of Young Irish Filmmakers, a group in my hometown of Kilkenny for children and young people who were interested in making their own films. I had a school friend whose aunt worked for Don Bluth and we got a tour of the studio in Dublin.”

Moore studied in the college Don Bluth helped set up – Ballyfermot Senior College but by the time he graduated, they had returned to the US. So he set up his own studio Cartoon Saloon with some friends back in the premises of Young Irish Filmmakers in Kilkenny.

My favorite characters are Brendan and Aisling. Brendan is faithful, loyal, curious, hard-working, loves literature, and through Brother Aidan, discovers his own hidden artistic talents. I am a master at art, just like Brendan, though my parents discovered my talents much earlier, as soon as I started drawing when I was three. I consider myself a better artist than a film critic, because I have been creating art for a much longer time than reviewing movies!

I also share a great imagination and love for nature with Brendan. I love to see wild animals in the natural ecosystem. I also wrote and illustrated lots of books, such as “Journey to Land,” about the adventures of a pack of African cheetahs, and books about our garden. In my view, imagination is only “magic” to those who don’t understand it. To those who have imagination, art is simply a natural way to express that imagination.

I like Aisling because she acts most like a real kid. She is a free spirit, and loyal to Brendan. One of my favorite scenes is when Aisling magically turns Pangur Ban (Brother Aidan’s mysterious cat with differing eye colors!) into a spirit as she sang a beautiful, haunting song.

According to director Moore, “Aisling is based a little on my younger sister, she had a similar personality, (a little pest!) and she had big eyes and bushy eyebrows, pink knees from climbing trees and playing outdoors and pale skin. She was also a talented singer from a young age. I made several designs of her to try and find a fairy type character but also one that felt like a real little girl, so I based it on my sister. Once I had something I was happy with I turned to Barry Reynolds who was a college classmate of mine who took my first designs and made the final versions of all the characters you see in the film.”

I asked Moore if Aisling was made up or based on Ireland legand, he said, “She’s mostly made up as a representation of all the old Pagan gods and creatures who went before. But in Ireland there is a tradition of poetry called ‘Aisling Poems’ as Aisling means dream or vision in Gealic.”

“In these poems a beautiful young woman will appear to the poet in a dream representing Ireland. I thought it was fun to make her a little girl instead of a beautiful woman. Also the poem you hear her speak in the opening scene is based on a very ancient poem called the Song of Tuan Mac Cairill. He was one of the ancient race of the Tuatha De Dannann left behind when they disappeared underground and became what we call fairies today. He survived in the world of men by transforming into a Stag, a Wolf Into a salmon and so on, and we took that idea and applied it to Aisling.”

“The Secret of Kells” is an “illuminating” tale about friendship, wisdom, overcoming fear, and discovering your own creativity. It has splendid visual, haunting music, and amazing storyline built upon historical facts. I think this movie would appeal to a wide audience, although younger kids may be disturbed by the war scenes.

I give the film 4.5 starfish. It’s Perrific! I noticed that the cat, Pangur Ban, did not age as most of the human characters, nor did the old man with long beard who first discovered that Brendan was gone from his cell. Are they magic? I asked director Moore. “I get asked this all the time :) Well, for me, Pangur Ban is sort of a symbol of Aidan and Iona, she may be magical like Aisling,” said Moore. “Pabgur Ban IS kind of immortal because a monk wrote about his cat Pangur Ban in a poem that’s in one of the manuscripts from that period, so school kids in Ireland learn about Pangur Ban to this day. Or maybe the cat at the end is her daughter :) !” Which one do you think is more likely?

There were many similarities between “The Secret of Kells” and other “Perrific” animations. It is visually stunning like one of my all-time favorites, the 5-starfish-rated “Azur & Asmar,” directed by the French animation master Michel Ocelot. Monsieur Ocelot has become a dear friend of mine since I interviewed him in San Francisco last year. Also the Princess Charnsous Sabah in “Azur & Asmar” was locked up in the palace and not allowed to leave; just like Brendan was forbidden to leave the walled fortress of Kells.

Brendan, just like Hiccup in “How to Train Your Dragon,” lived a thrilling double life. At the start of the film, Brendan was always thinking about what his uncle the Abbott Cellach would do to punish him. Once he befriended Aisling, he forgot all about his worries and lost track of time. Both Brendan and Hiccup lost their moms and had a strict father or father figure in their lives, who lacked confidence in the boys. Both boys violated the rule of the leader of the village, however, such violations transformed their lives permanently for good. Each befriended a mystical creature who became their ally. But Toothless is more than an ally, he gradually turned into a pet once Hiccup tamed him! Aisling, however, kept her wild spirit and independence.

I noticed that the Vikings in this film have eyes that are like glowing balls with dim light. They are heartless and don’t look human at all. The Vikings show a lack of respect for artistry and human knowledge, as they rip the pages of the sacred Book of Kells.

While other films have more complex visuals, “The Secret of Kells” succeeds in its own unique visual style: simple but elegant. The lines that make up the human characters and objects are bold, decisive, and beautiful, suffused with splashes of vivid colors. Adorned with priceless jewels, with a bright golden cover and pages that seemed to glow from within, The Book of Kells represents the power of art, literature, and human creativity itself.

Friendship can heal your worries. The path to enlightenment takes courage, creativity, and perseverance.

Copyright 2010 by Perry S. Chen


Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning child film critic, Annie Awards presenter, artist, TV personality, and radio talk show host of “Perry Previews the Movies” on His recent appearance on National Public Radio (NPR) Weekend Edition Sunday with host Liane Hansen was a major hit with listeners worldwide. He has been featured on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Fox, KUSI, CW channel 6 San Diego Living, San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego Family Magazine, San Diego Magazine, SDNN, Art Rocks! radio, The China Press, World Journal, etc.

Perry has been invited to numerous film festivals, awards shows, press junket, and movie premiers to interview prominent filmmakers such as Oscar-winning Pete Docter of Up, John Musker & Ron Clements of The Princess & the Frog, Oscar-nominee Bill Plympton, directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders of current top box office winner “How to train your dragon,” and walked on the red carpet.

Perry reviews films on a starfish rating system, 5 being the best. His reviews are available on his website:

Listen to his radio show on

Watch his videos on



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Friday, April 02, 2010

LA Times Review today :),0,6599746.story

'Secret of Kells' comes to life with bright, imaginative spirit
Hand-drawn animated film from Ireland was an Oscar nominee, and it's clear to see why.

April 2, 2010

"The Secret of Kells" is an anachronism many times over, and what a good thing that turned out to be.

A ravishing, continually surprising example of largely hand-drawn animation in the heyday of computer-generated imagery, an inexpensive and sophisticated European production in an age of broad-stroke studio films, even a spirited defense of books and bookishness while Kindles walk the earth, "Kells" fights the tide every way it can.

Yet this longshot that began as a college project for Irish director Tomm Moore edged Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo" for one of five feature animation Oscar nominations, and in a year without Pixar's "Up," might even have won. That's how magical this story of a boy and a book turned out to be.

The book is the Book of Kells, a circa AD 800 illuminated manuscript whose recounting of the four gospels was so dazzlingly decorated and illustrated (in part by the monks at the abbey of Kells) that it's universally regarded as one of Ireland's national treasures.

"The Secret of Kells," co-directed by Nora Twomey, is a fable-like tale of how that book might have come to be completed, involving the stern Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson), the master illuminator Brother Aidan (Mick Lally), and the 12-year-old Brendan (Evan McGuire), "the little brother with the big questions," whose pluck and fortitude end up saving the day -- with a little help from some woodland friends.

But though "Kells' " story (by director Moore) and screenplay (by Fabrice Ziolkowski) are delightful, the narrative itself is only part of the reason for the success of a film that is a tribute to and an example of the power of the imagination, an enterprise that insists that what the mind imagines, the hand can achieve.

The heart of everything, not surprisingly, is that marvelous visual style, not only heavily Celtic influenced but also a glorious throwback to the more stylized, painterly work of decades past, the kind of vividly colored, fanciful pictorials that are usually confined to the small-scale realm of animated shorts.

Also breaking out of boundaries is the spirit of this film, which has room for multiple approaches. The main sensibility is light on its feet, even playful -- Brendan chases a goose, as it turns out, not to kill it but to pluck feathers for quills -- and there's a sense of gentle fun about the proceedings that is tonic to experience.

But this easy nature also admits to the presence of evil, both the flesh and blood malevolence of invading Norsemen, looking like animated versions of the barbarians in Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevsky," and the more mythological evil of dark forces that dwell in the murky depths of the forests.

Because he sees the forest as dark and threatening, the severe, unbending Abbot of Kells has decreed that young Brendan cannot go outside the enormous walls that he's building around the abbey in the hope that they will keep the invaders at bay.

All this changes when Brother Aidan, a charismatic master illuminator whose work is of such high quality that "it's capable of turning darkness into light," shows up at Kells with a book he began illustrating on the island of Iona before the marauding Norsemen made him flee.

Very much attracted to the making of art, Brendan overcomes his fears and the abbot's strictures to go into the forest in search of berries that Brother Aidan needs to make one of the manuscript's especially vivid colors.

Deep in those trees, Brendan meets the marvelous fairy Aisling (Christen Mooney), both young girl and wolf, who introduces him -- and us -- to the glowing wonders of the forest, a place of pagan delights but also, as it turns out, the lair of Crom Cruach, a legendary monster who also has a place in the Kells saga.

With a firm footing in all these worlds -- blissfully pagan, devoutly Christian and darkly monstrous -- "The Secret of Kells" teaches important lessons in the most casual, joyful way. How it manages to do that is probably the biggest secret of all.



Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times