Star Wars released the nine studios from around the world that will create Star Wars: Visions season two. I’m here to take a closer look at each studio and showcase their work.
Cartoon Saloon has quickly become known in animation circles as the Studio Ghibli of Europe. They’ve truly solidified their place in the industry by sharing fables and myths in the midst of fantastical settings. But they’re not just any myths; being an Irish studio, they are bringing Irish tales to a wider audience. Their Irish Folklore Trilogy has won them much-deserved critical acclaim around the world.
In 2009, they burst onto the animation scene with greatness from the start. Their first four animated feature films were all nominated for the Academy Awards which is an insane achievement. And their fifth feature film, My Father’s Dragon, just missed the cut for the 2023 Oscars despite being in the running with several media outlets. Granted, the 2023 Academy Award nominations are STACKED this year with several powerhouse performances like Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. It is in no way a bad thing to lose a nomination slot with those films.
Cartoon Saloon has raked in many other awards in the industry including countless film festival winners, the Golden Globes, the BAFTA’s, and the highly coveted Annie Awards. For context, the Annie Awards is considered the biggest award show for animation. Where the Oscars or Emmys have people voting who don’t always understand the medium and pick whatever their kids like, the Annie Awards is voted strictly by people working in the animation industry. It is a BIG DEAL to win an Annie in animation circles.
Something that I admire about Cartoon Saloon is their desire to remain independent outside of big corporations. After they won their first Oscar nominations, they were given major offers from other companies. Despite financial troubles, they chose to stay as an indie company and dictate their own work until they rose through the ranks as one of the best in the business.
Coming into Star Wars: Visions feels full circle for the company. During the time Song of the Sea was up for Oscar contention, studio founder and director Tomm Moore told The Irish Times about why he got into filmmaking and bringing myths to life saying:
"“I have one grandmother that’s still alive but the grandmother that’s gone was very superstitious. She was [a] very strong Catholic but at the same time believed in fairies and all kinds of mad stuff. She would have told me the Giant’s Causeway story and things like that. Like any spoilt brat in the 1980s, I thought it was all very passe, old people stuff. I was much more interested in comic books. It was when I was in Young Irish Film-makers that somebody showed me an interview with Joseph Campbell and Leonard Maltin; it was only when I made that link between comics and Star Wars and mythology that I got interested.”"
Star Wars is drenched in its own mythos. Who better to help brings Star Wars: Visions to life other than a studio that focuses on mythology and the wild beauty of our world? If you want to see what Cartoon Saloon is all about, I would recommend Wolfwalkers and The Breadwinner, but the other two entries of the Irish Folklore Trilogy would be great too, being The Secrets of Kells and Song of the Sea. Their most recent feature film My Father’s Dragon is currently on Netflix. Also, check out their own sample reel below too.