Nothing conveys the magic of cinema like animation, and the genre plays a huge part in First Cut! Youth Film Festival each year. Through an engaging, accessible, and fun programme of workshops, screenings, and discussion, our Animania programme impacts young people across Youghal, Co. Cork, all over Ireland and for the first time in 2021, the rest of the world.

The animation industry in Ireland is on fire, and it’s an exciting time for professional animators and for students looking to break into the industry. Irish animation has won awards at such major ceremonies as the Oscars, BAFTAs and Emmys, and these have helped establish our reputation as a global powerhouse and centre of excellence for animation.

Workshops Programme

During March and April, First Cut! presented a series of wonderful animation workshops for young people in a range of animation styles and techniques. Young people from schools in Youghal aged 12 & 13, young people from Ireland and abroad aged 8-12, and 13-18, and  3rd level animation students over the age of 18, all took part in the series that culminated in special screenings of their films.


We received fantastic feedback from our Animania workshops for schools this year, with 6th class students having fun learning animation and drawing techniques. The participants were amazed by how much time it took to redraw each frame, and have a newfound respect for animators!

Students from Gaelscoil Choráin Eochaill, Kyle National School, Bunscoil Mhuire, Youghal and TYs from Pobalscoil Na Tríonóide all took part in these in-person and online sessions, creating their first wonderful short animated films that were shared in special in-school screenings.  

We were delighted that the students enjoyed the virtual hand-drawn animation workshops with Pádraig Fagan from Matchbox Mountain, an Ireland based animation studio that specialises in original storytelling and experimental visuals. 

Stop Motion with Ann Upton

Over two sessions, independent animator and IADT Stop motion Tutor, Ann Upton, led participants aged 18-24yrs in creating unexpected compositions using found photographic material, and animate their scenes frame by frame (below). Participants received training in creating an at-home stop motion shooting setup, selecting appropriate materials, and animating their designs. The workshop was aimed at participants of 18+ years.

Animania: My World in Motion 

In addition to the schools programme this year First Cut! engaged local artists, Belinda Walsh and Ilse De Ziah, to provide two programmes of online workshops, to 8-12year olds, and to 13-18 year olds (below). They  taught skills for hand drawn, claymation, legomation and paper cut Stop Motion. Each of these workshop series took place over 3 days with young people from East Cork and around the country – all making their own short films. The young filmmakers learned tips on storyboarding, sound, and editing. The enchanting results received their premiere during First Cut! 2021.


Over the festival our Animation programme featured work by the best and brightest animation talent in Ireland right now, ranging from young filmmakers in school, to industry experts. After each screening, a selection of featured filmmakers shared their fascinating stories and insights into their processes.

YAOTY Dingle Animation

This year we were thrilled to partner with Dingle Animation to showcase their Young Animator of the Year contenders to our First Cut! audience. This programme is open to secondary school students all over Ireland and is supported by the Disney Channel. In addition, JAM Media CEO John Rice and Animation Dingle Festival Director Maurice Galway were festival guests. They joined Ann Upton, independent animator and IADT tutor,  and experienced animation workshop tutor Belinda Walsh, in a Q&A about animation in Ireland. It contained valuable insights and great tips for any young person interested in pursuing a career in the thriving animation industry. Pictured below is Alamid Shayna Velasquez.

Special Closing Event Screening: Wolfwalkers

The closing event of the 2021 festival was a very special screening of the stunning Oscar and BAFTA nominated Wolfwalkers on Saturday May 8th. This magical feature from legendary animation studio Cartoon Saloon is a must see and has been widely hailed as an instant classic. In it, a young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumoured to transform into wolves by night.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with multiple award winning directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, and screenwriter Will Collins, moderated by Niamh Herrity, CEO & Head of Production at Pink Kong Animation Studios.

First Cut! Open Call Animation

Each year the festival highlights a selection of the best animations submitted to the annual open call. The talent of the filmmakers this year blew us away, and the selection was one of the strongest ever screened at First Cut!. This year our top prize,  First Cut! Youth Film Festival Best Film 2021, went to a beautiful and haunting animated film – Husky by Darragh Scott, and our Best Animation Award went to the wonderfully quirky CNP – Visit to the Lacunary Space of Memory by Adina Constantin (below).

First Cut! Film Festival’s 2021 Animania programme was kindly funded by The Arts Council of Ireland, Cork County Council, and Youghal Credit Union.