The Breadwinner is a lovely animated film based on the acclaimed novel by Deborah Ellis. The Canadian, Irish, and Luxembourgish co-production had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and has since gone on to receive multiple nominations and awards for its story of Parvana, a young girl living in Afghanistan who becomes the breadwinner for her family after her father is falsely arrested.  She has to do this by disguising herself as a boy so she can operate under the rules of the Taliban that forbid women from going out unless accompanied by a male relative.  Not even sure if her father is still alive, Parvana and her family struggle to stay together while she takes on heavier jobs and risks with the hope that they might be reunited.

The Breadwinner is topically relevant, with a dense plot to accompany its wonderful visuals.  It delves into topics of sexism, courage, shown through the eyes of the sympathetic and ingenious Parvana.  The film doesn’t shy away from the real violence and terror present in post-war Afghanistan and makes a mature emotional connection rarely seen in animation.  In the movie, Parvana helps her younger brother deal with this despair by relating an allegorical story of a young man on a quest to retrieve seeds that were stolen by the evil Elephant King.  Parvana’s relation of the story helps reignite her own hope and stoicism to continue on her impossible journey, as her father often told stories to the family as well.

The movie balances war and peace, using different styles of animation for its main story and that of the stories told within.  This  stylistic approach helps temper the senseless violence of the situation as well as illustrate the power of imagination to transport us away.  Nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, The Breadwinner also won Best Independent Feature at the ANNIE awards as well as best animated feature from The Los Angeles Film Critics Association.  Additionally, it’s nominated for 6 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture.

Hopefully you will join us for this story of perseverance and family as the Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery’s program Reel Movie Mondays screens THE BREADWINNER at 7:00 P.M. Monday March 12, 2018 at Carnival Cinemas.  Until then, save me  the aisle seat!


-Jason Hlady



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