27 February 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Puffin Rock and The New Friends dubbed into Ukrainian by actors based in Ireland
13 Feb 2024 : News Desk
Puffin Rock and The New Friends
A Ukrainian version of the animated feature, Puffin Rock and The New Friends premiered at Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin.  Produced by Cartoon Saloon and Northern Ireland’s Dog Ears, Puffin Rock and the New Friends Ukrainian version will be made available for educational and non-commercial use across Ireland and Europe.

The Ukrainian version of Puffin Rock and The New Friends is voiced entirely by Ukrainian nationals that have relocated to Ireland.  A casting call open to all Ukrainians in Ireland, regardless of experience, was shared with the Irish based Ukrainian community in Ireland in August 2023, with over 150 respondents for the 18 roles available.  

Featuring a female narrator, Alla Bineeva, an experienced theatre and film actress living in Kerry to take on the role previously performed by Chris O’Dowd, the voice cast also features Anna Svidruk from Dublin playing Oona and Polina Vorobei from Cork playing Isabelle.

Speaking about the revoiced version, Director Jeremy Purcell said:

“‘Puffin Rock is a wonderful place to live, but what if it just doesn't feel like your home.’ During the production of the film this was a guiding statement for us, for how Isabelle may be feeling as a new puffin coming to live on a new Island, far far away from her home. We always tried to talk about her character in the simplest ways, for us she is an 8-year-old child moving to a new school or an 8-year-old child whose parents have to work away from home.”

“We tried to focus on universal themes and experiences for our audience. But sadly in the world we live in, she is also an 8-year-old child forced to leave all they have known, not because of climate change but because her home has been destroyed by war. It was quite late in production when the idea of making a Ukrainian version of the film was introduced. We absolutely knew it was something we wanted to do.” 

This is the first time that Cartoon Saloon has created a foreign language version of one of their films, a job that is usually outsourced to the respective country the dubbed version of the film would be aimed at.

“Screen Ireland is delighted to support this very special film and screening of  Puffin Rock & The New Friends, translated into the Ukrainian language by the team at Cartoon Saloon, with the work and support of the Ukrainian community in Ireland,” said Désirée Finnegan, Chief Executive of Screen Ireland, speaking at the film’s premiere. “The film promotes themes of community and connection – it’s a wonderful, timely message for young audiences to connect with around the world."  

Casting and Voice Direction consultant, Alyona Osmanova, and Director, Jeremy Purcell, reviewed each of the tapes submitted through the open call, eventually whittling these down to 52 in-person auditions. The in-person auditions were held across two weekends in Cartoon Saloon’s Barrack Street Studio, with people travelling from Kerry, Cork, Clare, Galway and Dublin to attend the auditions.

“Our cast travelled from all around the country for the record sessions,” added Voice Director  Lorraine Lordan. “They were more intensive than we initially expected but we were blown away by the enthusiasm, commitment and hard work of our cast and their parents, grandparents and/or brothers who travelled with them. The final performances are a testament to everyone involved. And I think Puffin Rock and the New Friends is every bit as moving in Ukrainian as it is in English.” 

Alyona Osmanova, an actor and producer from Kiev, provided voice direction services to the project alongside Lordan. The translation was recorded in Gorilla Post Production in Dublin with sound engineer Mark Fitzpatrick. The screenplay for the film by Sara Daddy was translated by Olena Velyka, a Ukrainian national who previously took part in Screen Skills Pathways programme and worked on the Preschool series Silly Sundays.

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