The Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge Co. Kildare is hosting Animagination – A Festival of Illustration, Animation and Books, essentially a whole weekend of family adventure in animation, running April 17th to 19th.

The weekend offers visitors a chance to learn how animated films go from ideas, to words, to the moving images we see on screen. Guests can talk to the people behind the cartoons: from the authors who create the characters; the illustrators who draw them; to the voices who give them life.

The festival kicks off with a screening of superb French animation Ernest and Celestine at 10am on Friday April 17th. This Oscar Nominated animation isbased on the award winning book by Gabrielle Vincent, and tells the story of a bear and a mouse who become unlikely friends. This screening is aimed at schoolchildren and promises a little surprise for pupils and teachers alike.

Saturday April 18th sees a number of workshops, beginning at 11am with an Animation and Cartoon Workshop with Fabian Erlinghauser from Kilkenny’s two-time Oscar®-nominated studio Cartoon Saloon. The multi-award winning Cartoon Saloon, producers of Oscar nominated films, The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, make a return visit to Riverbank Arts Centre to host a very special illustration and design workshop. Fabian Erlinghäuser: Animation Supervisor at Cartoon Saloon will give participants an introduction to designing characters as well as a brief introduction to storyboards, composition and animation techniques featuring an exciting mix of visual language basics and cartoon character design. The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea were nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Film category, so participants of this workshop will have an opportunity to learn from the very best in the world of animation.

This is followed at 2pm by Behind the Scenes with Cartoon Saloon – a Talk and Q&A with Fabian Erlinghauser. This sees Cartoon Saloon Animation Supervisor Fabian Erlinghauser give audiences a behind-the-scenes look of the production of some of Cartoon Saloon studio’s best loved productions, from the Oscar-nominated film The Secret Of Kells to Anam an Amhráin, an eclectic selection of Irish language songs.

At 3pm audiences will have the chance to see Cartton Saloon’s first Oscar nominated film, The Secret of Kells, on the big-screen. Living in Medieval Ireland, Brendan – the nephew of grumpy Abbott Cellah — is a novice at the Abbey of Kells which is constantly under threat from the marauding Norsemen. When famous illuminator Brother Aidan arrives with a stunning and precious manuscript, Brendan realises his true vocation and, against his uncle’s advice, decides he will help complete the book. Directors Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey create a truly unique look for this magical story. Drawing upon Celtic designs and mediaeval illustration techniques to create an unforgettable illuminated animation.

During Saturday (from 11am to 4.30pm) there will be a drop-in Cartoon Saloon Pop Up Shop. This offers visitors the chance to get their own copy of Cartoon Saloon DVDs, prints or illustrations and to have a chat with friendly Cartoon Saloon bookkeepers.

There are three drop-in events on Sunday, beginning from 11am to 1pm with a Drop In Workshop – Story Doodles with Marten Jonmark of Brown Bag Films. Emmy Award winner Jonmark will host a small but perfectly formed workshop on creating and drawing your own stories. The storyboards that are created will be displayed in the Children’s Gallery for the day. Each individual
session will last approximately 15-20mins.From 11am to 4pm there will be a Children’s Books Ireland Drop In Book Clinic.Children’s Books Ireland are bringing the Book Doctor and the Doodle Doctor to the festival for a very special pop up event.  Guests can visit the Book or Doodle Doctor, consult on their favourite reads and then visit the festival’s friendly receptionist on the way out to collect their prescription.

11am until 1.45pm sees the Shorty Shorts Screening. This allows visitors to pull up a beanbag and catch one of the short animations being shown in the Children’s Gallery.  These will be looped throughout the morning, so there is no need worry if you miss the start of one, you can catch it when it comes around again.

At 2pm the festival will screen Henry Selick’s James & The Giant Peach a mix of live-action and stop-motion animation based on the famous book by Roald Dahl. This has an enchanting, at times ghoulish, appeal. An adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic story, Selick’s film most beautifully captures the book’s free-floating, fantastic sense of adventure and wonder. Forced into a life of drudgery by his evil aunts Sponge and Spiker (Miriam Margolyes and Joanna Lumley), orphan James (Paul Terry) dreams of escape to New York. An old man (Pete Postlethwaite) appears and gives the boy a jigging handful of fluorescent, magical crocodile tongues. A dead peach tree bears a gigantic fruit, and diving Alice-like into its core, James enters a world of strange invertebrates. As his wishes take flight, so does the peach, putting to sea and soaring up in the air, hauled majestically by a flock of tethered sea-gulls. The songs and music have the inimitable signature of Randy Newman.

The Riverbank Arts Theatre is located on Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare. Find out more from their website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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